Canadian cannabis grower strikes deal to enter US market

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Aphria – one of Canada’s largest medical marijuana producers – kicked off a U.S. expansion plan with an investment of 25 million Canadian dollars ($18.63 million) that will lead to the purchase of a licensed CBD business in Florida.

When the complex deal is done, Aphria will have established a foothold in Florida with the goal of eventually extending its reach to other medical marijuana markets in the United States, according to a news release.

Aphria plans to put the CA$25 million into private holding company DFMMJ Investment, which, in turn, will buy Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua, Florida, near Gainesville.

Chestnut is one of seven licensed businesses participating in Florida’s CBD-focused program. The company is positioned to participate in the state’s new, full-strength medical marijuana program.

British Columbia-based DFMMJ, meanwhile, will be renamed Liberty Health Sciences, according to the release, and will operate in the United States as Aphria USA.

Concurrently, Clarus Securities, a Toronto financial services firm, will lead a brokered private placement of CA$35 million ($26.07 million) for Liberty. That capital and the initial $25 million infusion will enable Liberty to acquire and operate Chestnut Hill.

After DFMMJ receives the Aphria investment, it will become a subsidiary of SecureCom Mobile Inc., an Ontario-based mobile phone security company that is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

As part of the deal, Aphria will license its MMJ growing technologies and greenhouse expertise to Liberty in exchange for 3% of Liberty’s marijuana-related sales, an undisclosed amount of stock shares and the right to appoint two members to Liberty’s advisory board. When the deal is done, Aphria will end up owning 37.6% of Liberty.

This deal comes on the heels of Aphria increasing its investment in an MMJ grower in Arizona.