Local cannabis company sells to Ga. firm

Here comes more Big Marijuana.

A Georgia company with a big-time capital investor and marijuana operations in Florida, Texas, and Nevada announced on Monday that it has signed a deal to purchase New England Treatment Access,  which operates a recreational marijuana store in Northampton, a medical dispensary in Brookline, and a cultivation facility in Franklin.

The acquisition by privately held Surterra Wellness is the latest sign of how the marijuana business is rapidly evolving from individual state markets into a national industry where the lines between medical and recreational marijuana are blurring.

In a press release, Surterra declined to say what it paid for NETA. But the company said its cash and stock purchase was “one of the largest acquisitions to date in the US cannabis industry.”

Surterra is not the only big player in Massachusetts. Curaleaf in Wakefield, which owns facilities in a dozen states, went public on the Canadian Stock Exchange last year at an initial value of $4 billion. The company reported sales of about $100 million last year.

Surterra is on the same trajectory. The company started out in medical marijuana in Florida and then expanded into Texas. Late last year, William “Beau” Wrigley, who sold the William Wrigley Jr. company to Mars Inc. in 2008 for $23 billion, invested $65 million in Surterra through his asset management company and quickly acquired the titles of chairman and CEO.

The cash infusion allowed more rapid expansion. In December, Surterra purchased The Apothecary Shoppe, a vertically integrated cannabis company in Las Vegas, and the acquisition of NETA is coming a month later. Surterra increased its employee count from 100 to 550 in 2018. By the end of 2019, the firm expects to employ up to 2,000 people, Wrigley told Marijuana Business Daily.

Like its other acquisitions, Surterra tries to keep many of the existing employees and managers in place. Kevin Fisher, the cofounder of NETA, told MassLIve that he was not “cashing out.” He said he plans to keep working at NETA and gain a seat on the Surterra board. As more states legalize recreational marijuana, Fisher said, businesses need the resources to keep up.

“It’s a maturing of the industry, that’s for sure,” Fisher said. “I think you’ll see more of this across the industry. You will see some organizations cash out. For us, this is about continuing to build a business.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker, who is taking a pounding from local lawmakers and mayors for his administration’s approval of a Weymouth natural gas compressor station, says his hands were tied.(State House News)

Sen. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen would like to see the state pay US Coast Guard employees during the federal government shutdown and then seek government reimbursement once the shutdown ends. (Eagle-Tribune)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Springfield City Council overrides Mayor Domenic Sarno’s veto of an order making the city a “welcoming community” to all immigrants. (MassLive) More from Western Mass Politics & Insight.

In a bit of cloudy messaging in advance of his State of the City address tonight, Mayor Marty Walsh says of the theme of his administration, “I don’t have a theme. It’s everything, my theme is everything.” (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

House Republicans stripped Rep. Steve King of all his committee assignments in the wake of comments the Iowa Republican made asking why white supremacy is offensive. Sen. Mitt Romney said King should resign and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested he find “another line of work,” but President Trump has been silent. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

“Has the fire Berned out?” asks the Globe’s Michael Levenson about Bernie Sanders’s presidential prospects.

Two more candidates have taken out nomination papers in the looming free-for-all recall election for mayor in Fall River. Former mayor Will Flanagan, who was himself tossed from office in a recall election and had been hinting at joining the fray, said he won’t run. (Herald News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Shaw’s supermarkets is closing four stores in New England, including three in Massachusetts in Leominster, Lynn, and Plymouth. (Telegram & Gazette)

Sears may soon join the ranks of the dearly departed retail icons. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley worked with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and the Alma del Mar Charter School to forge what may be a way for charters and district schools to better coexist in the future. The approach, which would require legislative approval, calls for the charter expansion to draw students from the surrounding community only as opposed to the entire district. (CommonWealth) More coverage from South Coast Today.

The Boston Herald said state politicians “punted with platitudes” yesterday when asked whether bullying laws need to be strengthened in the face of data showing how pervasive the problem is in Massachusetts schools.

A former Cohasset middle school teacher has been indicted on charges of molesting several former students. (Patriot Ledger)

Worcester is struggling with what type of sex education program to offer its students. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The state’s Medicaid program will begin asking patients about their care experience just as private insurers regularly do. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Andy Monat of TransitMatters offers a way to rethink a very unacceptable and dangerous roadway outside Boston’s Museum of Science. And check out the GIFs. (CommonWealth)

T officials say their new Orange Line cars, which were expected to start carrying passengers this month, will be delayed 8 to 10 weeks for additional testing. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Keolis posts its best on-time performance month…T on track to meet its budget targets, but some revenue streams are a bit squishy….Some transportation advocates don’t want T police handling fare enforcement when the new fare collection system comes on line.

The CEO of a Washington, DC, area business organization says congestion tolling on roadways there has made a big difference in reducing commuting times, and says Boston could learn from the experience. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Salem News editorial calls for a bottle deposit on the tiny nip liquor bottles.

Energy transmission executive Ed Krapels calls on ISO New England to host a discussion about the best way to bring electricity from offshore wind farms ashore. (CommonWealth)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The Supreme Judicial Court finds that troopers can arrest drivers for driving under the influence of marijuana based on observations alone. (MassLive)

MEDIA

Ken Doctor analyzes the gamesmanship around Alden Global Capital’s push to buy Gannett Co. Doctor calls Alden “the most reviled newspaper owner in the business.” Among its properties are the Boston Herald, the Lowell Sun, and the Fitchburg Sentinel. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Facebook commits $300 million to support news, with an emphasis on local news. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times analyzes President’s Trump’s tweet-support of the National Enquirer and its coverage of Jeff Bezos’s divorce.