Mike Tyson has landed a blow for cannabis enthusiasts by breaking ground on a 40-acre marijuana farm in California.
The move by the former world heavyweight boxing champion comes hot on the heels of the state’s decision to legalize the drug for recreational use.
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The Tyson Ranch, which will also have a research and development arm, is on a remote plot of desert land in California City, a town near Death Valley National Park, according to The Blast. Tyson was pictured at the plot alongside the city’s mayor Jennifer Wood as well as his business partners Robert Hickman and Jay Strommen.
A video on The Blast shows Wood telling a crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony that the facility represents a “rebirth” for the city. “We have an industry that will provide medical cannabis to people in need. It will also provide jobs, revenue, income for people who live in our city,” she said.
Some 20 acres of the site will reportedly be devoted to marijuana cultivation. The planned Tyson Cultivation School will teach prospective farmers how to develop their own strains and conduct research to develop its clinical uses. Plans are also said to include a “glamping” campground with cabins as well as an amphitheatre.
The 51-year-old likely hopes California’s decision to legalize cannabis for recreational use will spark a boom in the marijuana trade across the state. Marijuana has been proven to have many medicinal functions. CBD, a cannabis compound with no psychoactive properties, in particular is known to act as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant and antipsychotic agent. Marijuana has also been used to treat PTSD and to relieve the symptoms of MS amongst other uses.
A divisive figure, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 at the age of 20. Since then he has managed to maintain his popularity despite several public incidents including his 1991 arrest and imprisonment for the rape of 18-year-old model Desiree Washington. In 1997, Tyson was disqualified in the third round of a fight with Evander Holyfield after biting off a piece of his opponent’s ear.
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California is the sixth US state to legalize medical marijuana for recreational use. It follows Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.
Tyson is not the first former sportsman to make the move into marijuana market either. In 2016, disgraced cyclist and former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis announced that he had set up ‘Floyd’s of Leadville’, a company that will sell cannabis infused products in Colorado.