Circle K Owner Doubles Down on Cannabis Bet in Florida

Green Thumb Industries struck a deal to lease space from the convenience stores to sell its products.

Florida medical marijuana patients might soon have the option to buy their medicine from a gas station next year.

Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) said on Wednesday that it struck a deal with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. to start selling cannabis via Circle K convenience stores.

The Illinois-based multistate operator plans to test the waters next year, starting with 10 RISE Express”-branded dispensaries, based off its RISE dispensaries.

“This is a futuristic deal,” Green Thumb CEO Ben Kovler told Bloomberg.

The RISE Express stores will be adjacent to Circle K stores, meaning the sales would still be independent from the retailer, the company said. But it would up the convenience factor for many patients, Kovler said in the announcement.

The news comes one day after Couche-Tard inked a $16 million financing deal with Fire and Flower as the Quebec-based convenience store giant further wades into the cannabis space. Former Couche-Tard executive Stéphane Trudel was tapped to lead Fire and Flower under the CEO banner during a summer takeover, as the companies deepen their partnership.

Agreement details

Under the deal, Green Thumb can lease space from the more than 600 Circle K stations currently operating in Florida. RISE Express stores will sell GTI cannabis products such as flower, pre-rolls, edibles, and vapes.

“The opening of RISE Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer. Convenience is a strong channel in retail, and people want more access to cannabis,” Kovler said in a news release.

“The new RISE Express model is a huge step forward in making it easier and more efficient for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine when stopping by their local convenience store.”

The products available at these retail stores will come from a cultivation facility in Ocala that the company says will be operational by the end of this year.

Green Thumb has been operating in the Florida market since 2018 and currently owns and operates seven medical cannabis retail stores, according to the most recent Office of Medical Marijuana Use update.

More than 700,000 Floridians currently are registered active cardholders in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Stocks of GTBIF rose around 3% on the news as of press time.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson covers the cannabis industry for The Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri statehouse for The Columbia Missourian and has written for The Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants, and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


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