Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is joining the board of publicly traded cannabis company MedMen, the Los Angeles Times reported. Villaraigosa’s new appointment marks his return to the business world after a resounding defeat in the June 2018 California Democratic gubernatorial primary to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
MedMen, a Culver City, California-based company that operates high-end cannabis shops in California, Nevada and New York, announced Villaraigosa’s appointment Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, ahead of an aggressive expansion plan.
Other recently appointed MedMen board members include Stacey Hallerman a former vice president of luxury fashion brand conglomerate Richemont, and Jay Brown, CEO of Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s entertainment empire Roc Nation. On a board of branding, entertainment and accounting executives, Villaraigosa adds political and governmental experience, the Times reported.
MedMen Chief Executive Adam Bierman stated in an announcement that, “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.”
According to the Times report, Villaraigosa suggested that his role may be focused on social equity, centering on providing opportunities to people harmed by drug criminalization.
This focus aligns with the views Villaraigosa shared with Marijuana.com in an exclusive interview June 1, 2018, before he lost the gubernatorial primary. When asked about plans to expunge or vacate cannabis convictions in communities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Villaraigosa responded, “I think we need to do that statewide. The war on drugs didn’t work, it didn’t stop people from taking drugs. It incarcerated more people than anywhere in the world, on a per capita and absolute basis. It’s the biggest reason why the criminal justice system has been broken. I think that where people had cannabis for personal use and the like, those records should be expunged. Many of them have already paid their price, if you will.”
The Times’ report states that social-equity programs in Los Angeles and other cities also offer preferential permitting and other assistance to entrepreneurs previously charged with marijuana-related crimes or from neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.