Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, has been named to the board of directors of cannabis retailer and producer MedMen. The company, which is based in Los Angeles, operates 19 licensed cannabis facilities in three states.
“I’m excited for this opportunity to shape the cannabis industry and its commitment to social equity by joining the board of the company that is leading the charge,” Villaraigosa said on Wednesday in a press release.
Adam Bierman, the CEO of MedMen, said that the company will tap into Villaraigosa’s experience and network of political and business contacts in Los Angeles and the state of California.
“California is the largest legal cannabis market in the world, and Los Angeles is the epicenter of our fast-evolving industry,” said Bierman.
“Few people understand Los Angeles and our home state better than Mayor Villaraigosa. He will be instrumental in guiding MedMen’s expansion in the Golden State and through his broad network, Mr. Villaraigosa will help MedMen solidify its presence across the country. He has dedicated his career to empowering local communities, and we look forward to his leadership,” he added.
Commitment To Social Equity
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Villaraigosa said that he plans to be part of the cannabis industry social equity programs being created in Los Angeles. Such programs seek to provide opportunities to people of color and to members of communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.
“I have a relationship with those communities that’s as strong as anyone’s,” Villaraigosa said. “I understand the goal [of social equity]; I’ve supported it from the beginning. But we’ve got to make it work. Right now, a lot of what we have is doodles on paper.”
Bierman said that MedMen supports social equity programs in the cannabis industry. But he wants to be sure that they do not become too much of a burden for businesses and believes that the former mayor can help the company achieve that goal.
“In his life, he’s been a mediator and a conduit for compromise,” he said. “How do you make sure a social-equity program is created and exists in L.A that is the gold standard, while also ensuring commercial viability?”
Does The Former Mayor Partake?
Villaraigosa, who is now 65, said that he used to smoke cannabis when he was young.
“I grew up in the 1960s; everybody in my neighborhood did,” he said.
But when he was asked if he had used cannabis lately, the former mayor was not as forthcoming.
“I’m not aware of all the new products out there,” Villaraigosa said, avoiding the question.
High-End Cannabis Shopping
MedMen was founded in California in 2010 and operates 19 licensed cannabis businesses in California, Nevada, and New York, including cultivation facilities, processing operations, and retail stores. This week, the company announced it had struck a deal to license the Woodstock brand name for exclusive use in the cannabis industry. MedMen places a heavy emphasis on marketing and seeks upscale shopping destinations for the location of many of its stores.
“How do you become the trusted brand in the hearts and minds of the marijuana users of tomorrow? You do it on Fifth Avenue, you do it in Beverly Hills,” Bierman said.