Isiah Thomas: From NBA Champ To Business Mogul, Hemp Cars, CBD Drinks & Champagne Producer

NBA Hall of Famer and sports legend-turned-cannabis entrepreneur Isiah Thomas knows how to make his dreams come to life.

The ex-Detroit Piston is CEO and chairman of One World Products Inc. OWPC, the largest Black-controlled, licensed hemp and cannabis producer in Colombia. His current mission is to produce hemp cars.

"I envision a future where the Fords, the GMs, the Stellantis' of the world take plastics out of their automobiles and infuse them with industrial hemp to replace those plastics, thus reducing their carbon footprint," Thomas told Benzinga's Javier Hasse in a recent interview.

According to an agreement with Stellantis, one of the largest automakers worldwide and owner of Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot and other portfolio brands, OWP will develop and supply hemp-based bioplastic components for cars' interiors and exteriors.

"Think of us as the raw material supplier of hemp and cannabis to the industry," said Thomas, a returning guest of Benizinga's Cannabis Capital Conferences over the past several years. "We cultivate and we grow in Colombia because of the equatorial advantages that it gives us, we work with the indigenous farmers, and we work with the soil and the sun. Not only in the CBD space but also in the hemp space."

Hemp-Based Solutions To Replace Plastic

It all started in 2020 when OWP partnered with a subsidiary of Isiah International Inc. - Thomas' eponymous firm he founded in the 1990s - to develop and commercialize renewable hemp-based alternatives to plastics.

Some two years later, Isiah International and OWP, which has been under Thomas' helm since mid-2020, entered into a partnership with AMUNAFRO, the National Association of Mayors of Municipalities with Afro-Colombian populations, to control over one million acres in Colombia and focus on industrial hemp production while commercializing the vast carbon credit opportunities contained. The idea was to produce hemp and hemp derivates in association with local farmers to supply the auto industry, among others, with plastic substitutes. Shortly after, Isiah International and OWP appointed three highly-qualified executives with expertise in plastics, engineering and design within the automotive industry.

"When we look at plastic, anything will be made of hemp and we wanna be the biggest supplier of that," Thomas said. "Not only can you use hemp to build the car, but for fuel, food, and plastics."

The Chicago native called hemp "life-changing" at last year's Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, which returns to Miami Beach’s historic Fontainebleau Hotel April 11-12. Thomas says hemp is "an opportunity not only to impact and change lives today but also down the road."

A Seasoned Entrepreneur Across Numerous Niches

The NBA legend has proven successful in other niches as well, such as real estate, champagne imports, waste removal and entertainment.

Thomas' holding company's portfolio includes cannabis oil, CBD companies and Cheurlin Champagne, which he acquired in 2015. In 2021 Cheurlin Champagne hit shelves at Sam's Club and Target.

Thomas has said that his secret to building a successful business is good communication.

"From a communication perspective, it's being able to take your vision, impart it to your team and have everyone buy into the vision in terms of becoming the best. Inspiring them and motivating them to give their best every single day," he said. "That's what I've brought to the table, and that's what I bring to the table as a CEO of One World Pharma."

Building A Successful Business

Taking his own philosophy to heart, that's is how the 12-time NBA All-Star one of the 50 greatest players in the league's history, took OWP from a supplier of chemical formulators and a food and beverage producers to become one of the largest hemp and cannabis producers in Colombia.

How Did He Do It?

In March 2020 when OWP became a legal seller of hemp and CBD seeds in Colombia, OWP began selling hemp seeds several months later and completed its first THC harvest in August. Following a $3 million investment in OWP, Thomas spearheaded the construction of an extraction facility, making it one of the first companies in the country to hold licenses and the capability to extract high-quality CBD and THC oils.

Over the years, the company has invested in the development and relationship with the surrounding indigenous people and local farmers by creating an autonomous infrastructure and economy enabling them to receive the genetics and seeds to grow hemp and resell and to become shareholders in the company. 

Recently OWB undertook a collaboration with Pressure BioSciences, Inc. PBIO to develop a line of sports performance/recovery drinks.

Thomas said, "this next-generation CBD-nanoemulsion beverage is being designed for fast reduction of inflammation and pain, improved recovery time, and enhanced overall performance."

Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference

The most successful cannabis business event in the world, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, returns to Miami April 11-12.
This is the place where DEALS GET DONE, where money is raised, M&A starts, and companies meet investors and key partners. Join us at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel. Don’t miss out. Secure your tickets now before prices go up.

Photo: Benzinga staff 

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The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is coming to Florida

The Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is returning to Florida, in a new venue in Hollywood, on April 16 and 17, 2024. The two-day event at The Diplomat Beach Resort will be a chance for entrepreneurs, both large and small, to network, learn and grow. Renowned for its trendsetting abilities and influence on the future of cannabis, mark your calendars – this conference is the go-to event of the year for the cannabis world.

Get your tickets now on – Prices will increase very soon!