Former NBA All-Star player Chris Webber is launching a private-equity fund with US$100 million in assets to support entrepreneurs from minority groups in the cannabis industry.

Webber will join forces with JW Asset Management, an active investor in the sector, to provide entrepreneurs of color with resources in areas including research and development, retail licensing and marketing. Minority entrepreneurs have largely been denied access to the booming cannabis industry because of social and financial barriers, the two parties said in a statement Tuesday.

Companies, lobbying groups and state governments have become increasingly vocal about the need to include minorities in the legalizing industry. Black people were hit hard by marijuana-related arrests, and the industry now wants to bring minorities in as growers, dispensary owners, employees and entrepreneurs. Companies and governments are looking for ways to encourage participation.

“It’s crucial that we diversify the leadership in the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities,” Webber said in the statement. “For far too long, minorities have been excessively punished and incarcerated for cannabis while others profited.”