Michigan Fab Five's Chris Webber to bring a $175M cannabis 'compound' to southwest Detroit

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Former Michigan basketball and NBA star and Detroit native Chris Webber is planning to open a cannabis "compound" in southwest Detroit, which will include a marijuana operations and training facility, a cultivation facility, a dispensary and a cannabis consumption lounge.

Webber broke ground Tuesday on the 180,000-square-foot, $50 million facility, which will be called the Webber Wellness Compound. The compound is owned by Players Only Holdings, a business co-founded by Webber and entrepreneur Lavetta Willis. (Photo by: F.Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

The cultivation will eventually be expanded by 80,000 square feet, representing a $125 million investment. The first phase is set to be completed in March 2022. There's no timeline on the phase two expansion.

"This is my biggest priority in life," Webber said. "I've seen who (Willis) and I have helped across the country and the lives that have been disrupted by cannabis. Hopefully, we can do a little bit of repairing. Hopefully, we can help the city."

Tuesday's announcement represents the first tangible step after a $100 million private equity cannabis fund was launched in February to invest in Black- and minority-owned businesses and brands in the cannabis sector. Webber, Willis and Jason Wild of JW Asset Management, a hedge fund with more than $1 billion in assets under management, launched the fund.

Webber was born in Detroit and attended Detroit Country Day High School. He played basketball at the University of Michigan and then went to the NBA, where he played for teams such as the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings and the Detroit Pistons.

The training program will be run by Cookies U, a job training and placement program that recruits students from minority and underrepresented communities. Webber said it will be a three-month intensive program that will train students for a wide range of jobs, from budtending (selling cannabis) to cultivating marijuana.

Webber said there will be record expungement offices at the facility for everyone that wants those services, even if they're not planning to work in the cannabis industry.

Gage Growth Corp. will be the distributor for Webber and Willis' Players Only-branded cannabis products. The compound will be located at 2599 22nd St., just off Michigan Avenue.

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