Kevin Durant And Rich Kleiman Talk Cannabis: 'The Stigma Band-Aid's Been Ripped Off'

NBA icon Kevin Durant and his VC firm Thirty Five Ventures continue to bet on cannabis.

Having invested in a couple cannabis ventures in the past, the team is now going after a new challenge: a collaborative content partnership with tech platform Weedmaps — owned by WM Technologies Inc (NASDAQ: MAPS), focused on combating misconceptions around cannabis and its use in the sports world, as well as advocating for legalization.

The deal also includes a sponsorship agreement with Durant’s sports media network, Boardroom, a dedicated section on the Weedmaps site, and ongoing integrations with the outlet and its Out of Office podcast. The companies will initially collaborate on the production of an original content series, tentatively slated for debut in 2022.

According to Durant, the discussion about their next move in the cannabis space had been going on with Rich Kleiman, his partner at Thirty Five Ventures, for months.

During an Out of Office podcast episode Forbes got access to ahead of its release, Durant mentioned how things have “come full circle,” as he expressed excitement about “actually trying to tell stories around it [cannabis] and seeing how we can parallel the sports world.”

“It's been incredible just to work through the deal. Now, to have it signed, sealed, it's exciting,” Durant added.

See also: Study Shows Cannabis Consumers Are Successful, Motivated, Health-Conscious: Snoop Dogg Weighs In

Limitless Possibilities

“I think it’s kind of limitless what we can cover and what we can talk about. We as a company, Kevin, myself, our platform, Boardroom, all of us realized that it was important to get into this conversation,” Kleiman said during an exclusive interview before the podcast recording, as he discussed the partnership with Weedmaps.

Up to this point, Durant, Kleiman, and the Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom teams had only invested in the space and covered it from an editorial standpoint.

“Elon Musk smokes a joint and people lose their marbles. But there is a TV show called ‘Drunk History’ where a bunch of people get blackout drunk and try and reenact historical things; and that's on primetime television.”

—Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals

But the power duo wanted more. They wanted to be at the forefront of legalization advocacy and the fight for the normalization of cannabis in general. “It's such a prevalent conversation topic in sports. It's got such a beneficial use for people when it's used the right way. And I think the education and the storytelling around all of this is important because the conversation needs to be talked about in a way that people can really understand and educate them.”

Fortunately, in Durant’s view, the social stigma around cannabis is gradually disappearing. “The Band-Aid's been ripped off,” he assured.

“In the sports world, it was kind of an undercover thing, that players used cannabis, and used it while they were actively playing. And I always thought that was an interesting thing, even as I started to come into the league. Now you hear the conversation more and more around the …

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