New York-based mar­i­juana gi­ant plans to ac­quire 2 Chicago weed dis­pen­saries

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER | @TomSchuba

A ma­jor cannabis com­pany head­quar­tered in New York City an­nounced plans Tues­day to ac­quire a pair of Chicago mar­i­juana shops.

AWH, which op­er­ates a cul­ti­va­tion cen­ter in Barry and two down­state dis­pen­saries, agreed to ac­quire MOCA Mod­ern Cannabis’ flag­ship lo­ca­tion in Lo­gan Square and a newly opened store in River North. The deal still needs to be ap­proved by the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Fi­nan­cial and Pro­fes­sional Reg­u­la­tion, which over­sees dis­pen­saries.

“MOCA has been a lead­ing player in the Chicago mar­ket, and we are ex­cited to pair it with our Illi­nois Sup­ply & Pro­vi­sions dis­pen­saries, which in­clude the top-per­form­ing re­tail out­let in the state in Collinsvil­le,” said AWH’s founder Ab­ner Kurtin.

The news comes as AWH an­nounced its lat­est fund­ing round of $69 mil­lion. Last week, In­no­va­tive In­dus­trial Prop­er­ties, the San Diego real es­tate in­vest­ment trust that owns the Barry grow cen­ter, also made an ad­di­tional $18 mil­lion avail­able to ex­pand the fa­cil­ity.

The new ac­qui­si­tions would give

AWH six re­tail mar­i­juana li­censes in Illi­nois, though the com­pany plans to “seek new ac­qui­si­tions and part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to reach the state limit of 10 li­censes per own­er­ship group.”

AWH also has op­er­a­tions in Michi­gan, Ohio, Mas­sachusetts and New Jersey. The com­pany, for­merly known as As­cend Well­ness Hold­ings, was pre­vi­ously based in Bos­ton.

The Chicago dis­pen­saries would keep the MOCA name, and the store’s cur­rent own­ers would con­tinue to run them.

MOCA’s shop in Lo­gan Square, 2847 W. Fuller­ton Ave., was one of the city’s first and now sells med­i­cal and recre­ational weed. Its new store, 216 W. Ohio St., ex­clu­sively serves adult-use cus­tomers.

Bur­glars broke in to the Lo­gan Square store in Jan­uary and stole more than $100,000 in cash. The new lo­ca­tion was shut down by the city just days af­ter open­ing in July. That store has since re­opened.

“We are ex­cited for the next step for­ward on this crazy cannabis jour­ney,” MOCA’s co-owner Danny Marks told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We be­lieve we are stronger to­gether with a cul­ti­va­tor part­ner, and AWH is a great fit for us.”

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