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REFILE-Chris Webber launches $100 mln cannabis fund with JW Asset Management

·1 min read

(Corrects headline to remove extraneous text)

Feb 16 (Reuters) - Former NBA star Chris Webber on Tuesdaylaunched a $100 million private equity cannabis fund with NewYork-based JW Asset Management, aimed at investing in companiesrun by people from underrepresented communities.

Legal cannabis producers in the United States have facedscrutiny for being predominantly run by white men, an issue thatis present across industries but is more evident in the cannabisbusiness.

A 2019 report by industry publication Marijuana BusinessDaily showed over 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by whitepeople.

"It's crucial that we diversify leadership within thecannabis industry and level the playing field for people fromour communities," said Webber.

JW Asset Management, a hedge fund with over $2 billionassets under management, has been one of the few activelyinvesting in cannabis companies around the United States, whileother institutional investors have stayed on the sidelinesbecause of federal prohibition.

However, the industry is now banking on promises made by topleaders in President Joe Biden's administration to decriminalizemarijuana, a move expected to open the floodgates for freshinvestment in the industry.(Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)