The budding cannabis industry continues to draw interest — and funding — from celebrities and professional athletes alike.
Jaleel White, the actor known for portraying Steve Urkel in the 1990s sitcom “Family Matters,” is putting his name behind the cannabis brand Purple Urkle, which is set to hit shelves in California on April 20 Forbes reported. White, who is partnering with California cannabis grower 710 Labs to make a brand of marijuana called itsPurpl, explained his interest in selling cannabis in a letter on his website.
“Anyone who knows me personally as Jaleel White knows I am an ardent seeker of curated adventures, big laughs and excellent food,” he wrote. “All three of these interests are enormously enhanced by top shelf cannabis.”
Meanwhile, cannabis startup Leune said Thursday that it has raised more than $5 million in venture capital from NBA stars John Wall and Carmelo Anthony. Joining the investment round are Casa Verde Capital, a venture firm that includes Calvin Broadus, known professionally as Snoop Dogg; music manager Anthony Saleh, who represents such rap artists as Nas and Future; La La Anthony, an actress and wife of Carmelo Anthony; and prominent sports agent Rich Paul.
Leune makes vape products for marijuana smokers.
Leune CEO Nidhi Lucky Handa said that funding from Wall and Anthony has helped raise the company’s visibility. “Having their support through this crucial growth stage makes a world of a difference for a brand of our size, and we look forward to building one of the leading names in cannabis together,” she said in a statement.
“I’ve been seeking to make an investment in the cannabis space for quite some time, but never found a brand that resonated with me until I came across Nidhi and her products,” La La Anthony said in a statement.
The cannabis industry has long attracted financial interest among professional athletes. Among current and former NBA players, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant as well as Stephen Jackson, Matt Barnes and Al Harrington have all either launched marijuana products or invested in cannabis companies.
Investors have poured roughly $260 million into the cannabis sector this year, according to data from Pitchbook. About $211 million of that went to marijuana growers and sellers, while $49 million flowed to companies that make devices for marijuana like vaporizers, growing pods and bud trimmers.
Cannabis investment has picked up as more states legalize the plant for both medicinal and recreational use. California, Michigan and New York are among 15 states in the U.S. where residents can consume cannabis freely.