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Ex-NBA player from St. Louis, former teammate to open 2 dispensaries in St. Louis

Al Harrington and Larry Hughes are teaming up to bring Harrington’s cannabis business, Viola Brands, to St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS — Former NBA players Al Harrington and Larry Hughes are teaming up once again, as they bring Harrington’s cannabis business, Viola Brands, to St. Louis.

Los Angeles-based Viola will open two dispensaries this month. The company’s flagship ViolaMO location at 2001 Olive St., across from the Citypark Major League Soccer stadium in Downtown West, will open Jan. 23, and a second location, at 3420 Iowa St., in Gravois Park, will open Jan. 27.

The two St. Louis dispensaries will operate under the ViolaSTL brand.

The collaboration between Hughes, a St. Louis native who played at Saint Louis University before being drafted to the NBA, and Harrington was first announced in November 2020. The two were previously teammates on the New York Knicks from 2009 to 2010.

“My job, as a St. Louisan, is to understand what’s in the space and try to bring those things home,” Hughes said. “So, for me, it was completely a community play. It’s about doing good and helping the community thrive.”

Hughes desire to bring Viola to his hometown matched Harrington’s vision for the company.

“One of the main goals of Viola is to empower, uplift, educate and create opportunities for people of color — the people who are mostly negatively impacted by the War on Drugs,” Harrington said, adding that he views the cannabis market as an opportunity to create generational wealth for the Black community.

RELATED: Missouri's home cannabis grower application opens soon

ViolaMO is focused on providing premium cannabis products, as well as jobs and training for underrepresented communities in the cannabis space, the company said in a news release.

The company plans to employ around 200 racially diverse employees, it said. That number includes retail employees, as well as those in cultivation and processing, compliance, marketing and legal employees.

Click here to read the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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