Chicago pot startup raises $120M, support grows for legal weed

October 27, 2018

Verano, a newly-minted Chicago-based marijuana company, raised $120 million in private funding that will be used to bankroll expansion in Illinois and beyond.

After consolidating several existing cannabis operations and acquiring another, Verano now controls four cultivation centers and six dispensaries in Illinois, Florida, Maryland and Nevada, according to a statement from the company. Ataraxia, which operates a cultivation facility in Albion and three dispensaries across the state, is among the consolidated companies.

“This transformative investment will fast-track our long-term goal to dominate the most important growth industry in the United States,” said George Archos, CEO of both Verano and Ataraxia. “Even with our accelerated growth, we will remain focused on our core values of operational excellence with an unwavering commitment to produce safe, quality cannabis products for a consistent experience.”

The Verano deal also consolidates the ownership or management of more than 35 provisional or pre-operational licenses for cannabis facilities in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Puerto Rico, the statement said.

“We have quietly applied our operating expertise and exceptional customer service to build a trustworthy brand that is scalable across multiple states and has attracted serious interest from the investment community,” Archos said. “With our operating concepts and business strategies proven through solid revenue growth, market penetration, and profitability across all of our facilities, we are now replicating our approach throughout the U.S. and beyond.”

Verano’s launch is the latest headline-grabbing move by a Chicago area pot company.

This summer, River North-based Green Thumb Industries — which operates cultivation and dispensary facilities in multiple states — went public in Canada this summer through a reverse takeover of an existing company, raising $67 million in the process. Cresco Labs, another River North-based cannabis company with facilities in multiple states, followed suit earlier this month after raising $100 million is Series D funding.

MedMen, one of the most touted American pot brands, also recently acquired Oak Park-based medical marijuana company PharmaCann in a $682 million deal that’s considered the largest in the history of the budding cannabis industry.

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