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Curaleaf: Here's how we'll merge 'accessible' cannabis with lifestyle

Calder McHugh
Associate Editor

After a recent acquisition, Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF) CEO Joseph Lusardi believes his company is poised to take over the cannabis industry.

Last month, the Massachusetts-based company which bills itself as “most accessible cannabis company in the U.S.” acquired Oregon-based Cura Brands, which sells cannabis oil to retailers under the brand name Select, for $950 million.

Curaleaf has “the biggest brand on the East Coast,” Lusardi told Yahoo Finance recently. “And with the combination of Select, we'll have the biggest adult use lifestyle brand in the country.”

Combined, the two merged companies reported $205 million in revenue in 2018. By itself, Curaleaf has established a stronghold in East Coast markets and specializes in medical cannabis applications.

Meanwhile Select primarily deals in recreational use on the West Coast, where it is legal. For now, Lusardi does not plan to fully integrate operations.

“Curaleaf at its roots is a medical business. We started on the East Coast in highly regulated markets. We serviced almost 56,000 unique medical patients last month, something I'm very proud of,” Lusardi said.

He added: “But we see the adult use consumer as a different consumer, and Select really addresses that part of the business.”

Lusardi believes “about 99%” of all cannabis laws are passed at the state level, and this is where most of Curaleaf’s advocacy is focused.

However, some Congressional lawmakers in both major parties are trying to nudge the government to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is helping to lead a charge to clear a federal path for cannabis businesses. A co-sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, an act aimed at increasing legal pot’s access to banking, Merkley believes support in the Senate is growing. The legislation currently has 31 sponsors.

“This cash economy makes no sense,” Merkley said recently, calling it “...an invitation to money laundering, to organized crime, to petty theft, [and] not even paying your taxes accurately.”

With the possibility of federal recognition, and demand for cannabis products growing, Curaleaf— and other cannabis businesses like it — could be poised to benefit.

Calder McHugh is an Associate Editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @Calder_McHugh.

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