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

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Detroit Pistons' Chris Webber dives for a loose ball during play against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA's Eastern Conference basketball series in Cleveland, Ohio, May 29, 2007. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

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

Legal cannabis producers in the United States have faced scrutiny for being predominantly run by white men, an issue that is present across industries but is more evident in the cannabis business.

A 2019 report by industry publication Marijuana Business Daily showed over 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by white people.

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

JW Asset Management, a hedge fund with over $2 billion assets under management, has been one of the few actively investing in cannabis companies around the United States, while other institutional investors have stayed on the sidelines because of federal prohibition.

However, the industry is now banking on promises made by top leaders in President Joe Biden's administration to decriminalize marijuana, a move expected to open the floodgates for fresh investment in the industry.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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