Parallel’s $1.9 billion SPAC terminated

Atlanta-based multistate operator Parallel no longer plans to create a $1.9 billion special interest acquisition corporation (SPAC) with Ceres Acquisition Corporation,.  

Parallel, which operates vertically-integrated Surterra Wellness in Florida and is led by chewing gum magnate William “Beau” Wrigley, in April announced plans to enter the Illinois market via a $155 million acquisition of six Windy City Cannabis dispensaries. 

The company’s now “mutually terminated” plan to merge with Ceres to create a “blank check” company to acquire U.S.-based cannabis operators in developing markets including Texas and Georgia, reports Reuters, may be the result of a pierced bubble for SPAC investment vehicles. Investors in the SPAC also reportedly were sensing that initial growth projections were too much and too fast relative to reality.   

“Several investors who had committed to a $225 million private investment in public equity refused to invest over the following months,” reported Reuters.

Parallel is one of a growing number of multistate operators with ambitions to buy into the $2 billion Illinois cannabis market that continues to be controlled by a small handful of entities licensed to grow, process and sell cannabis in the state. 

In addition to the announced Windy City Cannabis acquisition, independent Illinois operators with cultivation facilities in recent months cite Parallel along with Ayr Wellness, Jushi, and Choice (another vintage 2021 SPAC founded by Cresco co-founder Joe Caltabiano and former Green Thumb Industries CEO Pete Kadens) as suitors. 

Ascend acquires two Ohio dispensaries

Already vertically-integrated in Ohio’s ascending medical marijuana market, New York-based Ascend Wellness Holdings on Oct. 1 announced the acquisition of two additional dispensaries.  

The addition of previously independently-owned pot shops in Carroll, Ohio and Cochocton, Ohio would give Ascend four of a maximum five retail locations in the Birthplace of Aviation, where adults will likely get high recreationally in 2022 with an adult-use sales program anticipated by 2023. 

Ascend, which is also vertically-integrated in Illinois (with eight of a capped 10 retail location) and Michigan,officially acquired a cultivation facility in Monroe last May and has agreed to acquire an additional Monroe processing facility in a deal pending state approval.   

Cresco acquires three Pennsylvania dispensaries for $90 million in cash and stock 

Chicago-based multistate operator Cresco Labs on September 23 announced it acquired three high-performing dispensaries in medical state Pennsylvania for $90 million in a combination of cash and stock. 

Cresco was the first cannabis operator in Pennsylvania to open a grow facility, with 112,000 square feet of cultivation space in Brookville. The company also operates four SunnySide dispensaries in the Keystone State, where another bill was introduced last week to make it possible for all adults in the state to get stoned without fear of any prosecution. 

Pennsylvania is a large population, high regulation state that is a sweet spot for Cresco and other multistate operators that invest in markets with limited competition. Last month Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell explained to Grown In the company’s expansion rationale

Acreage Holdings acquires vertically-integrated Ohio operator for cash, notes and stock

New York-based Acreage Holdings, which is vertically-integrated in Illinois and has spent recent years divesting assets in Florida and other markets, on October 1 announced the close of an acquisition of cultivation, processing and retail assets in Ohio originally agreed upon in 2018.

According to the press release, “Acreage entered into purchase agreements for these operations in Ohio during the summer of 2018 for the total purchase price of approximately $7.1 million in cash, $7.1 million in notes and 1.1 million shares of High Street, which are convertible into shares of Acreage, with the remaining $3.3 million worth of notes repaid today.”

The politically connected operator, which includes former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on its board, now owns a 70,000 square foot cultivation and processing facility and five retail dispensaries in Ohio’s expanding market. 

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.