NETA sale nears completion

  • The exterior of New England Treatment Access, or NETA, in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2019 9:10:59 PM
Modified: 6/14/2019 9:10:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The sale of New England Treatment Access to Georgia-based Surterra Wellness is one step closer to completion after the Cannabis Control Commission approved the sale on Thursday.

Surterra Wellness said the acquisition, announced in January, is one of the largest acquisitions in the U.S. marijuana industry, though the company declined to say how much it paid for NETA, which has medical and recreational marijuana stores in Northampton and Brookline and a cultivation facility in Franklin.

Surterra has operations in Florida, Texas and Nevada. The Cannabis Control Commission approved the sale at Thursday’s public meeting on the stipulation that the company agree to abide by Massachusetts regulations covering edible products and advertising. Commissioners added the stipulation after reports that the company had failed to comply with Florida restrictions on marketing and advertising its medical products, and that one of its processing facilities had been shut down for failing to complete a food safety inspection.

The CCC’s director of investigations, Patrick Beyea, told the commission he had been reassured by the head investigator of Florida’s medical marijuana commission that Surterra had rectified any problems with its operations there.

“She did say that Surterra was in compliance with everything and that any deficiencies that have been observed in past inspections have been corrected and they are in good standing with the Florida medical marijuana program,” he told the CCC on Thursday.

Documents obtained by the Miami Herald revealed that Surterra Florida expected to make $138 million in revenue by 2021. Surterra — whose CEO is an heir to Wrigley’s chewing gum fortune William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. — said earlier this year it raised more than $200 million in 2018.

Statewide, the CCC said it has approved five applications for a change in ownership, including the one from NETA.

In Northampton, a Boston company that planned to open a growing and processing facility on Ryan Road, Just Healthy LLC, was acquired late last year by an Ohio-based company.

By law, companies are only allowed three marijuana retail licenses in the state. A Boston Globe spotlight team investigation published in March showed that two large companies operating pot shops or seeking licenses in Massachusetts have ties to many other companies that are seeking pot shop licenses, raising legal questions.

CCC documents state that in the NETA deal, “individuals and entities that are requesting ownership and control over the licenses do not appear to have exceeded any ownership and control limits over any particular license type or cultivation canopy.”

Surterra said in January there will not be any major changes in the store, and that it plans to retain its local management and employees.

The last step is a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Brookline to approve the sale, according to NETA. Due to differences in local rules, no hearing is required in Northampton for final approval, according to Mayor David Narkewicz.

If the change is approved in Brookline next week, NETA expects the deal to be finalized soon after.

Surterra officials have said the acquisition of NETA is part of its “strategy to bring the industry’s broadest portfolio of high-quality cannabis brands to patients and consumers across the U.S. ... and to expand upon a global platform.”

NETA co-founder Kevin Fisher said in a statement when the sale was announced in January that the company was committed “to providing NETA’s high-quality products to our patients and customers in Massachusetts and to meeting the obligations of our Brookline, Franklin and Northampton communities.”

This story includes information from Statehouse News Service. Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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