Wakefield, Massachusetts-based multistate operator Curaleaf, which acquired Grassroots Cannabis earlier this year for approximately $840 million, is close to finalizing a state-mandated sale of up to six dispensary licenses. Curaleaf must unload these licenses due to Illinois statutes limiting any single entity from owning more than ten dispensary locations.

The deal would be complicated, since Curaleaf is acquiring two different groups of dispensaries controlled by partners Mitch Kahn and Steve Weisman, who through a series of operating agreements operated both Grassroots Cannabis, which owns the Greenhouse branded dispensaries and the Compass Ventures cultivator in Litchfield, Illinois as well as Windy City Cannabis dispensaries.

Through their operating agreements, Grassroots and Windy City managed to skirt Illinois’ ten dispensary license limitations, with eight medical licenses, four operating adult-use licenses, and four unused “plus-one” adult-use licenses, totaling sixteen licenses.

Former Grassroots Executive Vice President of Finance Brian Schinderle is managing an auction process of a subset of those locations. Reported bids from people close to the negotiations are for well over $10 million per license. License locations under discussion include Homewood, Posen, Litchfield, and Northbrook.

Reported suitors including Chicago-based MSOs Verano Holdings, scheduled to go public later this month with a valuation close to $3 billion, and privately-held PharmaCann are among the finalists.

Another suitor included a group of Black investors, according to multiple sources, which bid $52 million for these assets, but has been outbid, by vertically-integrated Illinois companies. These private companies, with frothy valuations, are in a strong position to pay handsomely and have built sophisticated enterprise operations to maximize 10 dispensaries in Illinois’ fast-growing market where competition and available licenses remains limited.

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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.