The executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), Michele Roberts, has been appointed to the board of Cresco Labs. Her appointment at one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S makes her the first woman and person of color to join the board of the Chicago-based cannabis firm.
Roberts joins eight other white men on the board of Cresco Labs, the owner of seven Sunnyside-branded dispensaries in Illinois, Chicago Tribune reports.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on Cresco Labs’ Board and work alongside the senior leadership and management teams in their efforts to elevate the company to the next level of excellence,” Roberts said.
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She added: “I look forward to advancing Cresco Labs’ distinctive brands of high quality products and services, particularly those focused on the promise held by medicinal cannabis to treat conditions and illnesses where more traditional protocols have not met the patients’ needs.
“… And I am also committed to supporting Cresco’s Labs’ social responsibility efforts which are focused on the industry’s first national Social Equity and Education Development initiative to better both individual lives and underrepresented communities.”
For years there have been concerns about the lack of diversity in the cannabis industry and Cresco Labs’ introduction of Roberts on its board is seen as a huge transformation in the industry.
“We are advocates of a more diverse and inclusive cannabis industry, and we are thrilled to have Michele’s counsel, experience, and leadership to help influence the development of both our Company and this industry. We believe her contributions will be invaluable to Cresco,” Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Labs’ CEO and co-founder said.
The legalization of cannabis in the U.S. created a multibillion-dollar industry and it has been predicted that the industry will be worth more than $43 billion within a decade.
With more than 20,000 businesses and 165,000 employees, African Americans are at risk of losing out. Currently, the legal weed business in the U.S. is an $11 billion industry, but less than a fifth of marijuana business owners identify as racial minorities, including the 4.3 percent who are black.
A distinguished trial lawyer, celebrated business leader and former member of the adjunct faculty at Harvard Law School, Roberts has since 2014, served as the Executive Director of the NBPA, working on behalf of NBA players to ensure their rights are protected and are fairly compensated for the value they bring to the sport and their impact on society.
“Ms. Roberts is an outstanding addition to our board,” Tom Manning, Cresco Labs’ Executive Chairman, and former Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet said, adding: “Drawing on her experience in leading one of the most important player organizations in the sports world and her expertise in law and litigation as a highly-accomplished trial attorney and educator, Michele will provide a unique perspective at a critical time of continued growth and expansion in the industry.”