Chart: Multistate cannabis operators rapidly expanding into new markets

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The fragmented, state-by-state nature of the marijuana industry historically has been dominated by small, local players, but larger, publicly traded companies with multistate operations are becoming an increasingly prevalent force.

Rapid consolidation and expansion among cannabis companies dominated 2018 with more than 300 mergers and acquisitions and a rash of reverse takeovers that allowed U.S. companies to go public in Canada, where marijuana is federally legal.

As of Jan. 9, the five publicly traded plant-touching multistate operators with the greatest market capitalization were Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, MedMen, Acreage Holdings and Trulieve.

A closer look at the individual footprints of these companies reveals some strategy behind state expansion choices.

These multistate operators (MSOs) tend to consider:

  • Tightly controlled markets with limited license availability. States such as Arizona, Florida, Connecticut, Maryland and North Dakota are prime for MSO expansion because of high barriers to entry and limited competition. In Florida, a few operators have a significant presence across the state. Green Thumb Industries entered the Connecticut market through an acquisition earlier this month, and MedMen moved into Florida through an acquisition last summer.
  • States that have – or are expected to have – both medical marijuana and adult use. Markets such as Massachusetts and Nevada gave existing MMJ businesses first crack at recreational licenses, a model that will soon be implemented in Michigan (expected to exceed $1 billion in sales) and could very well be carried out in other states in the near future. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed interest in legalizing recreational marijuana, while New Jersey is in the process of becoming the first state to legalize adult use via legislation (rather than by ballot initiative).
  • States that are on the speculative end of the spectrum, such as Iowa (whose financial viability is under question), CBD-only Virginia and highly competitive Oklahoma (which has some of the lowest barriers to entry in the U.S.)

George Allen, president of Acreage Holdings, reinforced several of these points in a recent statement: “Continuing to expand our footprint is a core growth strategy for us, both in terms of expanding our presence in states that are considering transitioning to adult use, as well as those states considering a medical program for the first time.

“We want to be wherever there is demand and advocacy for safe, predictable and affordable cannabis.”

Here’s what else you need to know about these multistate operators:

  • Curaleaf (CSE: CURA) operates in 11 states including 42 dispensaries, 12 cultivation facilities and 10 processing facilities. Curaleaf’s Jan. 9 market capitalization was $2.6 billion.
  • Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII) operates in 11 states with 12 manufacturing licenses and 85 dispensaries. As of Jan. 9, GTI had a market cap of $1.8 billion.
  • MedMen (CSE: MMEN) is preparing to close its acquisition of PharmaCann this month, at which point the company will have a footprint of 12 states through 16 cultivation and processing facilities and 76 retail stores. MedMen had a market cap of $1.5 billion as of Jan. 9.
  • Acreage Holdings (CSE: ACRG.U) has the largest footprint of MSOs in the U.S., operating 15 cultivation facilities and 78 dispensaries in 19 states. Acreage had a market cap of $1.3 billion.
  • With the smallest state footprint of companies on this list, Trulieve (CSE: TRUL) is in only three states but operates 23 dispensaries in Florida alone. The company recently acquired operations in California and Massachusetts. As of Jan. 9, Trulieve had a market cap of $994 million.

Maggie Cowee can be reached at