How NBA Legend Isiah Thomas Built a Hemp Empire

As the body of scientific literature establishing CBD’s therapeutic potential continues to grow, an increasing number of celebrity entrepreneurs are endorsing and investing in the hemp industry. One of the most notable and successful famous entrepreneurs in hemp today is basketball legend and NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas.

Isiah Thomas is an Indiana native who won back-to-back NCAA championships for Indiana University in 1981 and 1982, leading them to be the only team in history to do so. He played in the NBA for 13 years, winning three NBA championships. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players of all time by a committee appointed by the NBA, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thomas had a less successful coaching career, taking over as coach of the Indiana Pacers in 2000 and leading them to an Eastern Conference championship but losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2001 Thomas became the first African American to be named President of Basketball Operations for an NBA team. Today, Isiah Thomas is part owner of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

These days, “The Baby-Faced Assassin” is an important commentator in the basketball world, and a standout celebrity entrepreneur in hemp. Let’s go over how he got started in the space, how he feels about hemp as a commodity, and his latest investments into his growing hemp empire.

How Did Isiah Thomas Start in The Hemp Business?

Since the beginning of his foray into the legal cannabis industry, Isiah Thomas’ interest in hemp extended far beyond the manufacture of sport medicine products like CBD recovery balms and roll-ons for pain. Thomas made it clear very early that his partnerships and ventures in the hemp space were part of a larger effort toward federal cannabis legalization and social justice.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Isiah Thomas talked about his investments in the hemp industry. When asked how he came to invest in this industry and what it is that attracted him, Thomas said “I started reading up on cannabis and hemp because I wanted to be able to speak intelligently about it, but what really got me interested was when I learned more about industrial hemp.” 

Thomas continued by saying that he had been looking for an investment opportunity outside of basketball and saw the potential for success in industrial hemp as a marketable commodity. “Since then, we’ve been investing more time into it — not just trying to figure out if there’s something here or not.” 

Thomas also stated that he would like people to more accurately refer to the plant as “industrial hemp” and less often as just CBD which he claims “is a very small part of what this plant is.”

Thomas also shared his ideas about how America can reconcile legalization on a federal level while still addressing the social justice issue of arrest charges and incarceration for African-Americans. He stated that “there are too many black men in jail for nonviolent crimes — drug crimes — which, you know, if they were white, more likely than not their sentence would be significantly less.”

 

Expanding The Empire

In February this year, Isaiah Thomas’ holding company Isiah International Inc announced a $3 million investment into hemp and cannabis producer One World Pharma Inc, a pan-American company with four unique licenses to grow and commercialize hemp and cannabis sourced from Colombia. Isiah was recently appointed CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of One World Pharma, replacing its original founder Craig Ellins.

In a press statement, Thomas was quoted as saying “after extensive analysis of Colombia, the world market, and these most recent developments at the company, I passionately believe there is a tremendous opportunity to build a world-class, valuable, environmentally and socially conscious company that is a significant player in the global cannabis and industrial hemp industries.”

He continued, stating that “there are few, if any, reliable, industrial scale, global supply chain companies in this space and we intend to be one. I am pleased to initiate this next chapter of growth.”

With plenty of experience overseeing Isiah International’s diverse portfolio of holdings and driving the success of his own Cheurlin Champagnes, there’s little doubt the NBA Hall of Famer will be taking his cannabis enterprise to the next level over the years to come.


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Team Parle

The collective team of Parlé Magazine. Twitter: @parlemag

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