It’s being called one of the the biggest pot deals in U.S. corporate history.
Chicago-based Verano Holdings is being bought for a whopping $850 million by Harvest Health & Recreation, a marijuana company located in Phoenix. The companies announced the deal Monday.
Verano has a downstate medical cannabis cultivation center and three dispensaries, and operations in other states. Under the deal, Harvest becomes one of the largest marijuana companies in the country, with licenses to operate up to 200 facilities in 16 states and territories, the companies announced.
The deal, if completed and approved, means Harvest could rival, and eventually surpass, another big Chicago-based marijuana operator, Green Thumb Industries, which currently has 11 cultivation centers.
Under the deal with Verano, Harvest will have eight cultivation facilities. Harvest expects to have 13 cultivation centers by the end of this year, according to a company statement.
The company’s expansion comes as Illinois lawmakers are preparing to introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana now that the state has a pot-friendly governor, billionaire businessman JB Pritzker.
State lawmakers could approve the measure as soon as July, and Illinois pot companies are making moves to establish their dominance in the state, if not the U.S. Chicago-based Cresco Labs and Green Thumb both debuted on the Canadian stock exchange last year to tap into more capital.
If Illinois were to legalize recreational marijuana, it would be the 12th state to do so. So far, medical marijuana is legal in Illinois for some uses. More than 30 states have medical marijuana programs.
Hunter Clauss is a digital editor for WBEZ. Follow him @whuntah.