Sean "Diddy" Combs Spends Big Bucks Moving Into Cannabis

This time, it’s not all about the Benjamins. Social representation is key.

From naming personal strains and brands, and opening retail smoke shops and dispensaries to product collabs and brand ambassadorship, some of the most notorious names in hip-hop (past and present) are fueling the fire in the cannabis industry, to some degree or another.
However, no one has gone as big as Sean “Diddy” Combs. He recently signed one of the biggest deals in cannabis earlier this month, forming the world’s largest black and minority-owned cannabis company.

Diddy makes a $185 million deal with two of the biggest U.S. cannabis companies.

Sean “Diddy” Combs has invested in legal cannabis for the first time, and he’s coming in hot. Announced early this month, Combs acquired operations of Chicago-based Cresco Labs and Columbia Care, two of the largest cannabis businesses in the United States. The two companies are planning to merge, and the buy-in comes with a $110 million cash payment and $45 million in debt financing.
The massive deal includes a network of vertically-integrated operations across three states: Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois, all of which have legalized cannabis for recreational use only within the last couple of years. With the acquisition of these two mega companies, Combs will be able to cultivate, manufacture, and distribute products in the major metropolitan areas of Boston, New York City, and Chicago.

Each of the three states currently has its own production facility and wholesale operations. He will also acquire nine retail stores and dispensaries in all three states, allowing the sale of cannabis to consumers of legal consumption age in their respective states.  

Sean "Diddy" Combs has always been a businessman.

Combs recognized the opportunity to create equity by investing in one of the largest cannabis companies. While this is his first investment in the sector, Combs is no stranger to running his own business entities and dealing with consumer brands. He’s well known for various entrepreneurial ventures over the last few decades.
Even in the early days, Combs was a self-motivated entrepreneur.
Combs founded his record label, Bad Boy Records, in 1993 at twenty years old. Puffy, or Puff Daddy, as he was known then, went on to make significant contributions to the hip-hop industry throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
His debut album, No Way Out, is certified seven times platinum. It featured five tracks and a tribute to the Notorious B.I.G., “I’ll Be Missing You,” which became the first rap song to debut at number one on the Billboard charts. In addition, Combs has produced and helped develop several artists’ careers, including the Notorious B.I.G., Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, and Usher.
Combs has branched into many different industries throughout his music career over the last few decades. His business portfolio includes ventures in fashion, media, entertainment, and beverages, including alcohol.
In 1998, he started his fashion brand, Sean John jeans, which he has recently reacquired by Combs. Other ventures over the years include partnerships with Ciroc Vodka and other beverage brands such as Aquahydrate.

It's not just about the benjamins- Social equity and diversity are priorities.

Combs is also making history with this colossal purchase. The deal will create the largest black-owned and minority-owned cannabis company in the United States. Combs is among the few 12.1% of cannabis companies with black or minority executives. And he hopes to change that.  
Minority representation is lacking in significant ways.
A severe lack of representation and diversity has created social inequity in the cannabis industry. 81% of all cannabis businesses are owned by non-minorities 
This lack of representation for minorities is disappointing to Combs in other industries too, and aims to make the industry more equitable.
“My mission has always been to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in industries where we’ve traditionally been denied access, and this acquisition provides the immediate scale and impact needed to create a more equitable future in cannabis,” Combs in a November 4, 2022 press release.
Black and brown business owners experience much more adversity and difficulty in the legal cannabis market. After decades of prohibition and prosecution, the one chance finally comes for people to succeed and improve their lives and their communities. Unfortunately, the dream is just out of reach for many because of the barriers minority communities face.
“It’s diabolical,” Combs states to the Wall Street Journal, “How do you lock up communities of people, break down their family structure, their futures, and then legalize it and make sure that those same people don’t get a chance to benefit or resurrect their lives from it?”
There are a ton of groups out there who share Diddy’s thoughts on minority representation.
If you’re curious about other groups or organizations currently supporting diversity and promoting minority representation, many are out there, and most are backed by big players in the hip-hop and sports worlds.
The Last Prisoner Project is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to cannabis criminal justice reform. The aim is to redress through legal intervention, direct constituent support, advocacy campaigns, and policy change. They partner with other non-profits, cannabis companies, and many other individuals and organizations to help people who were or are currently incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes.
The National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) is another great national non-profit organization aiming to create a more equitable cannabis industry and reduce barriers contributing to the lack of representation, specifically people impacted by the War on Drugs the most. They offer many community resources across the country, including tutoring, education, and expungement programs for people with convictions on their record.