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HomeBusinessBlack Ownership in Cannabis Industry Discussed at Howard Theatre Event

Black Ownership in Cannabis Industry Discussed at Howard Theatre Event


The Howard Theatre in Northwest DC will be housing a panel discussion about Black people’s role as investors and business owners in the cannabis industry at 6 pm – 8:15 pm EDT on Friday, October 16.

Catalyst Network Foundation Inc., a nonprofit based in New York City and DC, is the organizer of the event, which you can attend in person or virtually.

Panelists are as follows:

  • Former NBA Player Al Harrington, founder and CEO of the cannabis company Viola Inc
  • Rodney Thomas, co-owner of Viola Maryland Inc.
  • Linda Mercado Greene, co-founder and CEO/owner of Anacostia Organics
  • Roy “Chip” Ellis, chairman of Hemp Commodity Industries and co-founder of Ellis Development Group

Harrington started Viola Inc. after being inspired by how cannabis helped his grandmother, Viola Harrington, who suffered from glaucoma and diabetes, among other illnesses.

The former NBA star is hoping to make 100 Black individuals millionaires through the cannabis business. He first invested $5 million in a cannabis company with his cousin in 2011, but he did it under his cousin’s name to hide it from the NBA, according to the event brief.

Viola reportedly raised $15 million prior to 2019 and is currently operating in California, Colorado, Oregon and Michigan, with plans to expand into Maryland, Nevada and Arizona.

Greene’s Anacostia Organics is a minority woman-owned medical cannabis dispensary in the District of Columbia. It is the first to open in the city to serve the most undercapitalized demographic population.

“She has gained national status in this new industry as Chair of the DC Medical Cannabis Trade Association,” says the event brief. She is also on the Executive Team as Strategic Advisor of the Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF), and the Chair of the CTF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.

She is the Host of a daily podcast, “Cannabis Conversations Podcast with Linda Mercado Greene”, on, 96.3HD4, and SoundCloud, which is the only DC government funded cannabis broadcasting.

For a ticket priced from $5 – $10, you can register and receive an email containing a Zoom link with a password for online participation.

The Catalyst Network Foundation is an organization founded by young professionals, aiming at investing in high-potential youth through mentoring and individualized career and leadership development.

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