“I was told when I started working for the NBA, Michele, you are now working for the largest group of black millionaires on the planet.”

Michele Roberts, former Executive Director of the National Basketball Player’s Association [NBPA] and active board member of Cresco Labs

In her keynote presentation that kicked off the Cannabis Innovation Summit, held on April 20th in collaboration with 1871, Michele Roberts spoke about her experiences leading the NBA’s players’ union, her efforts to relax the league’s overly tight cannabis policies and to help players ensure they are financially stable throughout life. The Summit was the capstone of a four-month, cohort-based program dedicated to supporting emerging tech businesses and helping early-stage Illinois operators succeed. 

After speaking about her efforts to help minimize cannabis drug testing and repercussions, Michele went on to discuss how she now advocates for the athletes as potential entrepreneurs and investors.

“We need to help them shift from being employees to owners.” She emphasized when speaking about the wealthy group who can fall into the trap of buying expensive cars and flashy things that do not generate sustained revenue. Such purchases run the risk of leaving the athletes financially distraught once they stop getting paid to play. Under Michele’s leadership, the league changed its policy and now allows players to invest in cannabis companies.

Providing resources and opportunities for them to invest in businesses, particularly amongst the ascending U.S. cannabis market that was valued at $30 billion in 2022, will not only empower the individuals to build more financial security for themselves, but it’ll also ensure the marginalized population becomes a more prominent part of the industry that’s continuing to explore how to better support minorities impacted by the War on Drugs and funding injustices at large.