JW Asset, ex-athlete launch $100M fund for marijuana minority businesses

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New York fund manager JW Asset Management is teaming up with former NBA All-Star Chris Webber to launch a planned $100 million private equity fund that will invest in underrepresented marijuana entrepreneurs.

A spokeswoman said $100 million is the fund’s target, and a “large portion” has been committed. The group declined to be more specific.

The announcement reflects how celebrities such as Webber are increasingly getting involved in promoting diversity in the cannabis industry.

In November, New York-based Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp. hired rapper and producer Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter to foster social equity in the industry with a goal of raising $10 million for that effort.

The goal of the JW Asset fund is to provide entrepreneurs of color access to an industry that currently lacks racial diversity.

The fund will provide resources to aid prospective entrepreneurs in cultivation, retail licensing, distribution, marketing and other aspects of the industry.

JW Asset Management, founded by Jason Wild, has been an active investor in the marijuana sector since 2014.

Webber co-founded Webber Wellness, a health and wellness company that promotes cannabis and CBD as alternative solutions to manage pain relief and support recovery.

“It’s crucial that we diversify the leadership in the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities,” Webber said in a news release.

Wild said in the release that “the legal cannabis industry can only grow to its full potential when all stakeholders have a seat at the table, and I feel that it is my responsibility to play an active role in eliminating barriers to entry for communities that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.”