Viola Closes $16 Million Investment Round Led By Gotham Green Partners

CALIFORNIA: Viola, a national leader in the production and sale of premium quality cannabis products founded by NBA veteran Al Harrington, today announced the closing of a $16 million funding round led by Gotham Green Partners. The investment firm, known for its financial support of some of the most reputable cannabis companies in the industry, is the first institutional investment in the company. 

Al Harrington Viola

This latest round of funding will assist with the acquisition of a 34,500 sq. ft cultivation, processing and distribution facility in Adelanto, California as well as the completion of Viola’s 48,000 sq. ft facility in Detroit, Michigan. The funds will also enable Viola to continue to advance the growth of the company’s personnel with key new hires that will continue to establish Viola as a leader in the cannabis marketplace.

Viola emerged on the scene with a commitment to making an impact by promoting social equity through increasing minority participation in the cannabis industry and positively impacting communities by reinvesting in individuals most affected by the war on drugs. Viola raised $15 million prior to this round of funding, which enabled the company to grow its product offerings and footprint within the cannabis industry. The company is currently operating in CaliforniaColoradoOregon and Michigan, with plans to expand into MarylandNevada and Arizona in 2020.

“Over the last five years, Viola has been dedicated to creating and producing quality herbal experiences for our customers,” said Al Harrington, CEO of Viola. “With the financial support and investment of Gotham Green Partners, our ability to dedicate more physical space to growing and cultivating our flowers and team will make the possibilities endless.”

“We are thrilled to be aligned with Viola as the company expands its lifestyle brand into new markets,” said Jason Adler, Managing Member of Gotham Green Partners. “As the firm’s visionary, Al has successfully launched the concept and subsequently surrounded himself with a top-notch management team. Further, Al’s background and the company’s mission resonate with a broad and engaged consumer base, and we are excited to see Viola products on more retail shelves across the country.”

Guest Blog: The Many Faces Of Marijuana In Professional Sports

Guest Post By Rachel Stires

When someone mentions major athletes, it’s easy for a particular person to come to mind. Whether it’s one of your favorite football players or a recent Olympic gold medalist, there are many different faces that have been burned into our memories when talking about sports. This includes the scandalous, the controversial, and sometimes the cases of athletes being terminated or suspended for illegal or improper behaviors. When it comes to marijuana and professional sports, there have been multiple cases of pot-smoking athletes suffering suspension and voided contracts, but also messages of hope and advocacy.

Perhaps one of the most notable athletes that uses marijuana and used it during his career is Ricky Williams. Williams has a long career in the NFL and numerous awards from his college days, but has clashed with the NFL regarding his cannabis use. Now, Williams is a strong advocate for medical marijuana, including for athletes who are dealing with physical or mental health issues. Williams spends his days further researching the medical benefits of the plant and pursuing various ventures in the cannabis industry. “Pain is part of life,” he states, “but suffering doesn’t have to be, and if we can find a way to help people suffering from anything, let’s do it; I think it’s our responsibility as human beings.”

In light of Andrew Bogut’s recent leg injury, the Cleveland Cavaliers are considering two players to replace him, one of them being the next on our list: Larry Sanders. Sanders played for the Milwaukee Bucks for 5 years, ending his career with two suspensions for marijuana use. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sanders explains “I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it.” Since his retirement, he has been pursuing various creative ventures, but as of January 26th, Sanders has announced that he will be returning to basketball. On top of that, there are now rumors of him joining the Cavaliers to replace Bogut. Only time, and Sanders, will tell.

You’ve probably noticed that Williams is retired, and Sanders is currently inactive. It might seem a little weird to not talk about athletes that are still active, but the reality is that talking about marijuana use among current players is still taboo. That’s because it can be a very real threat to their careers. The NFL, NBA, and MLB all test for marijuana for various reasons, and the punishments for said usage can be heavy. There are hints, rumors, and statistics floating around about how many pro-athletes actually use cannabis, but we’re never going to know just how many do until it becomes legalized or less restricted. Until then, we’re going to continue to see gifted players like Williams and Sanders suspended, made infamous, fade away from a sport they’re passion about, and become another statistic.


Rachel Stires is a media relations specialist for the Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida. In her spare time, she takes a special interest in health and fitness, including alternative treatments to common ailments.

TetraTrak’s Brian Yauger: Building Better Business Intelligence Technology

WASHINGTON: Brian Yauger has a game plan for bringing better business intelligence to the legal cannabis industry.  A Texan with Republican political leanings, the former NCAA football coach at first blush seems an unlikely figure to be heading one of Seattle’s hottest canna-tech firms, TetraTrak LLC, but Yauger believes his career as a big time college football coach was ideal preparation.

“Coaching turned out to be the perfect training for running a technology business,” Yauger tells MJNewsNetwork.  “You scout the field and competition, and you hire smart people to coach the positions that are not your strength.  Then you work tirelessly to put together a game plan.  Once you are comfortable with your plan you put it into action and then make adjustments on the fly as the game progresses.  You don’t get too high when things go right and you don’t get too down when things go wrong. You just keep pushing towards the goal line.  I think if you were to replace the words ‘game plan’ with ‘business plan’ and the word ‘adjustments’ with ‘pivots’, it is the exact description of how to run a business.”

Yauger Presents at MJBA Front Runner Seminar in Spokane

Yauger Presents at MJBA Front Runner Seminar in Spokane

Yauger relocated to Seattle in mid-June, 2014, looking to be a part of the Green Rush.  By February 2015 had founded TetraTrak, by opening a business checking account with $4600.  Within 6 months, Front Runner Data dashboard and searchable database Front Runner Data was cash positive.  Growing the company by establishing key strategic relationships with the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), where he presents the monthly MJ Research Report, and several of its member technology companies, TraceWeed, and PayQwick.

TetraTrak takes advantage of the incredible amount of public data available from Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board.  Through its online portal, the LCB makes regularly publishes detailed market and company data, but in hard to consume spreadsheet format. The Front Runner Data service parses all the cumbersome Washington data into an easy to read dashboard and searchable database, so market participants can see who is selling what to whom and for how much.  To add even more value, Yauger and his team of analysts compile the data, add analysis, and publish it out to subscribers for $99 a month.  TetraTrak is currently building out a free service, with near real-time streaming data called MJTicker.com, which is expected to debut in the next few months as an advertising supported offering.

Yauger presenting to Front Runner and MJBA "Striking Oil" Seminar in Tacoma

Yauger presenting to Front Runner and MJBA “Striking Oil” Seminar in Tacoma

Hundreds of companies have already subscribed to his service in Washington, and the company is now raising money, and will use the proceeds of its raise to expand its service to include the legal markets of Oregon, Colorado and Alaska.

Bringing the dashboard to life, Front Runner and MJBA host quarterly professional education seminars called The Front Runner series, targeted panel discussions for licensees. These half-day workshops drill down into the official LCB numbers, parsing the wholesale and retail marijuana sales data into salient consumable chunks. MJBA’s David Rheins then leads panel discussions with the industry’s leading authorities – licensees, subject matter experts, and government regulators – and facilitates audience Q&A. Highlights of these panels are currently made available on YouTube via MJBA’s Marijuana Channel One, with full-length downloads of the seminars, in addition to live webinars, in the works.

“Relationships in the industry are everything,” Yauger explained.  Through organizations like the MJBA we have been able to network with other companies in the industry and grow very quickly.”

Canna-Technologists Adam Mauro, Leaf Logix, Eric Ogden, WeedTraQR, and Brian Yauger, TetraTrak at an MJBA mixer

Canna-Technologists Adam Mauro, Leaf Logix, Eric Ogden, WeedTraQR, and Brian Yauger, TetraTrak at an MJBA mixer

On the print front, Front Runner has teamed with Seattle-based Marijuana Venture Magazine to publish a monthly snapshot of Washington’s cannabis marketplace, and is in development with several other syndicated media programs.

Last week, as MJNewsNetwork was preparing this profile, Fox Sports was in town to profile Yauger. The story of how an all-American jock went from college coaching to cannabis is topical. Sports and cannabis is making national headlines, and trending up the twitersphere these days, with a number of high profile athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL and UFC calling for the removal of the ban on medical cannabis.  Just last month, Yauger was a featured panelist at MJBA’s “Game On: The Business of Sports and Cannabis,” alongside NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, and in other ways sees a convergence of his old sports and new cannabis careers.

NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, Marc Belsher, Sliverback Advisors, and Yauger panelists at Game On: The Business of Sports and Cannabis in Portland

NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, Marc Belsher, Sliverback Advisors, and Yauger panelists at Game On: The Business of Sports and Cannabis in Portland

 

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan’s son Payton Ryan will be coming to work for TetraTrak after he graduates from college in May.   “Every football fan is familiar with the Ryan family,” Yauger said.   “The Ryan family is to NFL football what the Kennedy’s, Clinton’s, and Bushes are to politics.  Rob Ryan gave me my start in coaching and was my mentor.  We want to do the same thing with his nephew Payton.”

The cannabis technology field is super competitive, and the business intelligence segment of the marketplace is filled with first rate players.  Denver-based BDS, Washington, DC-based Frontier and Seattle-based Headset only the most prominent of the canna-tech firms seeking to build go-to metrics and analysis for this dynamic new marketplace.  All the competition motivates Yauger to push that much harder, “I work 70-90 hours most weeks, and not one minute of it has felt like work.  Building Front Runner and MJTicker and watching my little company that started out of necessity grow and become relevant in the industry has been so much fun.  I can’t wait to take it to the next level.”

 

Mile 'High' Denver Gets No NBA Pot Pass

COLORADO:  It was, as the Denver Post put it, “a historic swirl of commerce and cannabis” this past week in Colorado, as the nation’s first legal sales of recreational marijuana began.

To a degree, the Miami Heat couldn’t help but get caught up in that swirl (but not the smoke). First, because they were involved in the last game in Denver when marijuana sales still were illegal, and second, because two members of the team also are officers in the National Basketball Players Association. [Read more…]