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.”



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