Ascend Wellness Expands Into Illinois, Acquires HCI Alternatives

Multi-state operator Ascend Wellness is expanding into Illinois through a long-term lease  with Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) of a cultivation facility that Ascend will operate.  The deal, along with the definitive agreement to purchase HCI Alternatives, will create Ascend Illinois. The deal for an undisclosed amount is expected to close in early 2019.
The company said that the facility is projected to create new jobs and increase supply in the state, where medicinal use of Cannabis was first legalized in 2013, and made available to patients in 2015.
The cultivation facility is located in Barry, Illinois and is 75,000 square foot. It will be one of sixteen cultivators in operation in the state. Ascend Illinois says it will have a unique advantage to lead the state by filling growing patient demands.
“The passing of the opioid bill will lead to significant growth in the Illinois market next year,” said Founder of Ascend Wellness, Abner Kurtin. “Ascend is excited to bring a wide variety of branded product to enhance the experience of the Illinois consumer.”
HCI Alternatives, which is also based in Illinois has two two retail facilities in Springfield and Collinsville, as well an online cannabis educational resources website. HCI’s current customer base captures about 10% of the total market share in the state.
“We are gratified to be part of Ascend Illinois,” says Chris Stone, HCI’s CEO. “Illinois, like the rest of the country, has been plagued by the opioid epidemic, to which cannabis provides a safer and non-addictive alternative to pain management.”

Earlier this month, Ascend announced that it has raised $40M. The company has been developing licenses in three populous eastern U.S. states: MassachusettsMichigan, and Illinois. Combined, they create the largest market east of the Mississippi, which is equivalent in size to California or Canada, two of the most profitable cannabis regions in the world.

The companies that invested in Ascend include some of the biggest names in cannabis investing like Poseidon Asset Management, Salveo Capital, JM10 Partners, and Shire Capital Advisors. The company said proceeds from the capital raised would be used to build out locations in these markets and acquire future assets.

Ascend Wellness currently has plans for three high-end, licensed adult-use cannabis retail locations in three metro-area Boston locations. Additionally, the company has plans to develop a significant retail presence throughout these emerging markets as it solidifies itself as a leading U.S. cannabis operator.

Debra Borchardt

Debra BorchardtDebra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Editor-In-Chief of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Masters degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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