Big money player, billionaire William Wrigley Jr. backs U.S. marijuana startup with $65 million. You know the guy, the Wrigley chewing gum kid born with a golden spoon up his nose. In a convolved deal with singer Jimmy Buffett of “Margaritaville” fame, evoking the beach-bum lifestyle, Wrigley licensed Coral Reefer brand for his private company, Surterra Holdings Inc.
Founded in 2014, Suterra is based in Atlanta and is licensed to operate I Florida and Texas. It grows marijuana, manufactures medical cannabis products and operates retail outlets. The company has raised more than $100 million. Surterra is one of many starts to capitalize on legal marijuana sales. Although marijuana use is prohibited by federal law, 30 states permit medical use, and it is allowed for recreational use in nine states and Washington DC.
Cannabis startups have access to unlimited capital sources, even though many partnerships and retirement funds are restricted from investing in marijuana. These companies are increasingly turning to high-net-worth individuals to “backdoor” their appetite for cannabis investments.
In the U.S. more than 75 cannabis startups have raised at least $100 million from venture capital or private equity in the past five years, based on our SPM analysis. Others have listed on stock exchanges in Canada, where recreational marijuana will become legal in October.
The Coral Reefer marijuana products will initially be available at Surterra stores in Florida. The product will focus on improving appetite and mood, relieving pain and alleviating symptoms from anxiety, chemotherapy to x-ray burns.
The trend toward “branding” will become a significant element in the marketing phase of cannabis acceptance as a viable commercial product.