Following the meeting, Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven J. Hoffman expressed confidence in the commission’s investigation.
“You can never say with 100% certainty we uncovered everything. But I know we were diligent, we took our time with this,” he said. “I take the affidavit seriously. I think people understand If they said something in an affidavit that caused us to approve a transaction and It turns out to be have been misleading they’re going to lose their license. So I have confidence in the affidavit, confidence in the process, we did a very diligent job here.”
The sale to Surterra Wellness was first announced back in January. A purchase price was not announced.
The deal still needs approval from Brookline and there is a meeting set for Tuesday, June 18, according to NETA.
There is no local similar local approval process or city council vote in Northampton.
The potential sale sparked concerns that the national industry supplying legal recreational marijuana is already consolidating in the hands of a few major players and no longer accessible to mom-and-pop operators.
“We’re feeling great, this is a big important step in this process for us,” said Amanda Rositano, director of operational compliance for NETA.
Following the meeting, Rositano said NETA in Massachusetts won’t have any of the regulatory compliance issues the Surterra had in Florida.
“One hundred percent compliance is NETA’s number one priority. In addition to taking care of our patients, we take compliance very very seriously, we have very detailed compliance programs and we are very confident we won’t have any of the issues we had to disclose on the Surterra application,” she said. “Honestly, it’s business as usual here in Massachusetts, the same leadership that’s going to be operating, same operations, not much is going to look different right here in Mass.”
At its May meeting, commissioners OK’d the first acquisition of a marijuana company in Massachusetts: Sira Naturals to Cannabis Strategies Acquisition Corp. Sira Naturals has locations in of Somerville, Needham, Cambridge, and Milford.
And at Thursday’s meeting, commissioners asked repeatedly about investments the new owners might have in other marijuana operations and the company’s financing and borrowing arrangements.
NETA also has a store in Brookline and grows its product in Franklin, Mass., and has plans to add recreational marijuana sales there soon. NETA employs more than 450 in Massachusetts.
NETA opened its medical marijuana dispensary in Northampton in October 2015. It opened for recreational, often called adult use, marijuana sales about seven months ago in November 2018 as one of the first two recreational marijuana stores in the state.
Earlier this week, the trade publication Marijuana Business Daily reported that recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts totaled nearly $140 million through just the first six months, so as through the end of May
The buyer, Surterra Wellness, says it has a rapidly growing national operation with a headquarters in Atlanta but operations, including its growing of marijuana, concentrated in Florida Surterra is backed by an heir to the Wrigley gum and candy fortune.
The Commission also approved two final licenses to new marijuana operations:
Late Spring Inc. doing business as Gage Cannabis Co. in Ayer.
Sanctuary Medicinal Inc. which has plans described as a vertically integrated medical treatment center in Littleton. Sanctuary has a shop in Gardner that opened in March.
“We are thrilled to partner with NETA to expand health and wellness offerings to patients and customers in Massachusetts, which is anticipated to be one of the U.S.’s most rapidly growing markets. With operations combined across four states, Surterra is positioned to grow tenfold in 2019 and realize significant profitability,” said Surterra CEO William “Beau” Wrigley, Jr. in the January news release announcing the sale. “Since 2009, NETA’s founders have been recognized as pioneers and innovators in the cannabis industry. Their wide range of premium products, extraordinary service, diversity programs and strong community partnerships set them apart. Importantly, the acquisition of NETA was founded on our aligned set of values and reputable track records.”
In September 2018 , it reached a licensing deal with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville team to create a new medical marijuana brand, Coral Reefer.