Legal cannabis sales topped $10 billion across North America last year. Market outlooks predict sales will surpass $24.5 billion by 2021. With these projections, an ever-growing market, and increasingly lax legislation, investors all over the region are fuelling massive sums into the blossoming industry.
The cannabis business is thus becoming more and more attractive to large investors. William Wrigley Jr., the heir of the chewing gum and confectionery empire, is the industry’s most recent acquisition.
From selling chewing gum to kids to selling pot to adults, Wrigley has certainly made a bold move. Some have, in fact, interpreted it as the ultimate gesture to demonstrate the normalization of the medical marijuana industry.
Wrigley led a $65 million series C equity fundraising round in Surterra Wellness, a top medical cannabis operator based in Florida. The chewing gum fortune heir is also joining Surterra as chairman. “I haven’t been this excited about a business in a very long time. We have an incredible and incredibly professional team that is approaching this industry with a great deal of discipline,” Wrigley has commented.
Large injections of cash have become the norm rather than the exception in the cannabis industry. Only a few weeks earlier, Canada’s Scythian Biosciences announced it would pay $93 million to acquire a majority of 3 Boys Farms, another licensed Florida operator, and a related healthcare company.
The industry has flourished since medical marijuana was legalized in Florida in 2016. Yet by investing in Surterra, Wrigley is not only focusing on Florida, as the company has secured a license to sell medical cannabis in the state of Texas, and has applications pending elsewhere.
For Surterra, an influx of funds from a more traditional investor is perceived as a kind of validation. Because Wrigley has been successful at acquiring and commercializing brands, having him on board as chairman may signal a bright future for the company. After all, Wrigley is known for having sold the century-old family business to Mars Inc., but having first acquired bestsellers like Altoids and Lifesavers.
For cannabis market players, the fact that Wrigley is joining in and risking his capital is a sign of the industry’s maturity.
With investor equity now reaching $100 million at Surterra, the company now plans to expand its operations across the state of Florida, doubling its employees, and investing in crucial research.
Perhaps, Wrigley’s involvement is also a sign that in the near future, marijuana will be as common, and as easy to get, as a piece of chewing gum.
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