Pot luck? Wrigley heir hopes so!

August 7, 2018

William Wrigley Jr. II, who walked away from the 2008 sale of his family’s gum and candy business with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, led a $65 million Series C equity fundraising round in July for Surterra Wellness—a medical cannabis startup in Georgia with licenses to operate in Florida and Texas. The round brings the total raised so far to $100 million, Surterra says.

Wrigley, 54, who left the gum and candy business after the sale to Mars a decade ago, backs companies through a personal investment arm based in West Palm Beach, Florida, according to Bloomberg. After an initial investment in Surterra last September, Wrigley (who is known as Beau) is boosting his stake and assuming the role of chairman. Surterra is his first direct investment in the marijuana industry.

Speaking for the first time publicly about his investment, Wrigley said, “I am thrilled to join the Surterra team and help drive their mission to build a best-in-class cannabis healthcare business. After extensive diligence, we determined that Surterra has the highest quality standards, best products, and professional management team in the industry. We believe in the ability of cannabis to improve quality of life for patients across the country, and we are excited to build a global industry leader for the long term.”

Founded in 2014, Surterra Wellness claims to be “one of the fastest growing and leading medical cannabis companies in the United States.” W.The company offers a variety of products in multiple delivery options—including vaporizer pens, tinctures, oral sprays, topical creams, time-released transdermal patches, and soon-to-be be-launched softgels.

Wrigley, says he got into the industry mainly because of marijuana’s medical benefits, Bloomberg reports. He said he’s tapping his experience with product distribution and brand-building to drive growth at Surterra. “When I understood the massive benefits, it really changed my mind about the industry,” Wrigley said in an interview with the business news outlet. “You don’t see too many opportunities to have that kind of impact in an industry that is being created from scratch.”

Wrigley said Surterra plans to eventually participate in the domestic recreational marijuana market, which is forecast to surge above $5 billion this year. Indeed, the Gallup poll says that the percentage of those who have tried marijuana (45%) is at its highest since 1969. One in eight Americans current smokes pot, the pollsters say. Despite some hesitation because of the federal ban, the transition of billions of dollars into the legal U.S. economy from the black market is drawing a lot interest from investors.

“Everyone seems to be in there because they think they’re going to make tons of money,” Wrigley said. “Some will and some will be sorely surprised when they understand how complex it is.”

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

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