“I started smoking cannabis in college. During my sophomore year,” discloses NBA legend Allen Iverson. “Entering my rookie year, I got a hold of something quite strong, and that changed my thought process around smoking.”

Now a weed connoisseur, Iverson has joined forces with Al Harrington’s Viola Brands to launch a line of cannabis products and merchandise under The Iverson Collection name.

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing in the marijuana world for Iverson. In fact, the athlete was arrested for pot possession back in 1997.

“The first time that I smoked, my high got blown real fast. It was my first day on campus and the coach came up to our apartment looking for me and I was high as hell. I went straight to clean up and everything, and he was only coming up there to check on me because it was my first day on campus. But I was really scared he’d realize I was high. So, my first time smoking was a great feeling up until I found out he was looking for me.”

The Right Partner And The Right Approach

“A lot of people had approached me about cannabis in the past. But none of the offers felt right. That is, until I got a call from Al [Harrington],” Iverson explains when prompted about the partnership with Viola. “Al just explained to me what he was trying to do with his vision, how he’s trying to help people – mainly our people, how he’s trying to educate them and make them more aware of the benefits of cannabis and the stigma around it.

See also: EXCLUSIVE: How Former Pro Athletes Are Tackling The Opioid Crisis With Cannabis

Lured by Harrington’s personality and mission to help and educate people while empowering communities of color, Iverson finally jumped aboard the cannabis train. “I was all in from that point on. For me, being part of the first Black-owned cannabis multinational is major.”

The relationship between the two NBA legends goes well beyond business, though: It’s very personal.

“If I could share a joint with anyone, dead or alive, it would still be Al Harrington,” Iverson asserts. “He’s been on me about weed for years and he’s confident I’ll be alright with the cannabis he shares with me, that it will be right for me. So I trust him; that makes me comfortable.”

For Harrington, Iverson was the perfect fit for Viola too. “When I think about what we are doing in the cannabis space, being a …

Full story available on Benzinga.com