ST. LOUIS – A sustainable investment in the city he loves and calls home, is what Larry Hughes wanted to do when he decided to partner with Viola.

“That’s always been my mission leave a mark. Set an example and leave something of substance of a legacy where you can attach yourself to it,” Hughes said.

Now he’s part of the largest Black-owned cannabis footprint in the industry, rooted in building social equity for the Black and brown communities.

“It’s not just about reading something in a book. There was real impact made and there were real benefits from the opportunities I try to provide within our city limits,” he said.

CEO’s and co-founders Dan Pettigrew and former NBA player Al Harrington are the founding fathers of Viola.

They said the opportunity to add St. Louis to the brands resume with Hughes was an easy decision.”

“Larry advocates for St. Louis tirelessly. You couldn’t ask for a better representative of his hometown,” Pettigrew said.

“I’m from Orange, New Jersey. How do I know what’s important in St. Louis? So, that makes (Hughes) the ultimate partner, and he definitely holds us accountable,” Harrington said.

Harrington has been a pioneering athlete advocating for cannabis. He said to see their vision with the team in St. Louis shows the stigma is being lifted.

“It’s beautiful to see how this amazing plant is being more and more socially accepted,” Harrington said.

NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson even made an appearance for the grand openings over the weekend. Adam Dolittle was in line at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and one of the first through the doors.

“Man, Larry Hughes walked up, shook up with me, took a picture, it was great. I can’t wait to meet A.I. it’s crazy,” Dolitte said.

As Viola moves forward, Pettigrew said the state of Missouri has impressed him.

“That’s been the most pleasant surprise as a business owner. How effective the state has been communicating, and really working with us to make sure we’re doing everything right,” Pettigrew said.

Hughes is proud to bring be a part of something that brings people together in his hometown.

“Being from St. Louis, I know how important that is. So really happy that we found people from St. Louis to employ and work in these facilities as well,” Hughes said.