NBA Hall Of Famer Chris Webber's $175M Cannabis Venture Faces Challenges, But He's Not Backing Down

Zinger Key Points
  • "We're not going to abandon that space and we think the new plan will invigorate the community,” Webber told Crain's Detroit.
  • Players Only plans to secure the necessary Detroit license to open a dispensary, as the city will start accepting applications on Aug. 1.

"Where do the prices settle? The bottom of the ocean?" This is the problem NBA Hall of Famer and University of Michigan Fab 5 basketball star, Chris Webber, is currently facing.

Webber's ambitious $175 million cannabis development in Detroit has stalled for nearly two years since it was announced due to challenging market conditions.

What Happened: Webber's planned development, located at 2599 22nd Street, was envisioned to house an industry training complex, a 180,000-square-foot cultivation site, a consumption lounge, and a dispensary. Under the banner of Players Only, construction began in September 2021, with the completion of the first phase targeted for March 2022.

See Also: Michigan Abandons Pre-Employment Cannabis Testing For Some State Jobs

However, a sharp 56% plunge in marijuana prices from the time they broke ground has forced a significant reassessment of the project.

"The cannabis industry has really shifted in Michigan," Webber told Crain's Detroit. “Since the landscape has changed, we’ve had to adjust because we would not be smart to go with that plan.”

Due to the low cannabis prices in the state, Webber acknowledged the timing just wasn't right.

“I am from Detroit and love the city, the environment, and the people," he added. "But this would not be the best time for the community or us in Detroit to have a profitable outcome.”

See Also: Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon & NBA Star Chris Webber Talk Weed: Cannabis 'Can Unlock Superpowers'

Why It Matters: Webber voiced his concern about the fate of companies that made significant investments in the state. His $175 million investment risked being sucked into the vortex of the price crunch that has sent numerous cannabis companies into receivership.

Webber is planning to revise the development plans, likely resulting in a scaled-down project.

"We're not going to abandon that space and we think the new plan will invigorate the community,” he asserted while admitting that adjustments would have to be made since "the numbers aren't the same."

The original proposal for the site included a training center that would provide job training and placement, programs for expunging criminal records, and GED certification. In addition, Webber's business partnership with Gage Cannabisa subsidiary of TerrAscend Corp. TSNDF TSND operates Cookies-branded stores in the state.

 

Webber is confident that Players Only will eventually secure the necessary Detroit license to open a dispensary on the property, as the city will start accepting applications on Aug. 1.

“There are a lot of options for a license, like having a licensed partner. We don’t have a license because we can’t acquire a license. This isn’t a problem, and we’re excited about this labor of love," he said.

See Also: Chris Weber's Weed Is Here! NBA Hall Of Famer Rolls Out 'Players Only' Cannabis Brand At Gage & Berner's Cookies Dispensaries

Webber is also engaged in fostering equity in the cannabis industry. In 2021, he launched a $100 million cannabis private equity fund for businesses owned by people of color. It remains to be seen how these equity initiatives will impact the revised plans for the property in southwest Detroit.

The challenges faced by Webber and others in the industry are a stark reminder of the rapid market shifts that can occur.

To keep abreast of these changes, not just in Michigan but also at the federal level, consider joining us at the 17th edition of the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, which is returning to Chicago on Sept 27-28. Get your tickets today before prices increase and secure a spot at the epicenter of cannabis investment and branding.

Read Next: EXCLUSIVE - Cannabis Equity Report Features Q2 Data For Michigan, California, Florida, Illinois

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPenny StocksRegulationsSmall CapTop StoriesMarketsBenzinga Cannabis Capital ConferenceChris WebbercookiesGage CannabisMichigan cannabisTerrAscend Corp.
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