Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is joining the board of publicly traded pot company MedMen, marking his return to the business world following a resounding defeat in June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, it was reported Wednesday.
MedMen, a Culver City company that operates high-end cannabis shops in California, Nevada and New York and has aggressive expansion plans, announced Villaraigosa’s appointment Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported. Villaraigosa adds political and governmental experience to a board made up of branding, entertainment and accounting executives.
Other recent additions to the company’s board include Stacey Hallerman, a former executive at Richemont, the Swiss conglomerate that owns a bevy of luxury watch brands, and Jay Brown, the chief executive of of RocNation, the entertainment company co-founded by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, according to The Times.
In a statement announcing the appointment, MedMen Chief Executive Adam Bierman called Villaraigosa an experienced, connected leader who will help the cannabis firm continue to expand.
“Few people understand Los Angeles and our home state better than Mayor Villaraigosa,” Bierman said. “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.”
Villaraigosa suggested that his role may be focused on social equity, which in the cannabis industry centers on providing opportunities to people harmed by drug criminalization, The Times reported. Los Angeles and other cities have adopted cannabis social-equity programs that offer preferential permitting and other assistance to entrepreneurs previously charged with marijuana-related crimes or from neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.
“I’m excited for this opportunity to shape the cannabis industry and its commitment to social equity by joining the board of the company that is leading the charge,” Villaraigosa said in the joint statement with Bierman.
MedMen has been expanding its board since going public earlier this year to help fund its expansion amid stiff competition, according to The Times. Its stock is traded on Toronto’s Canadian Securities Exchange, which has become a haven for cannabis firms seeking public status.