By Carlo Versano
As Canadians celebrated Wednesday's cannabis legalization, one California-based dispensary completed the largest acquisition in the industry to date in America, becoming the most valuable U.S. pot company in the process.
MedMen's purchase of medical marijuana vendor PharmaCann for $682 million in stock marks a turning point in the push toward federal legalization, said the company's SVP of corporate communication, Daniel Yi.
Speaking to Cheddar from the floor of MedMen's original retail outpost in West Hollywood, Calif., on an "historic day" for cannabis users, Yi said the deal would not have been possible when the company opened its first store in 2015.
Changing consumers' attitudes toward the drug ー reflected first by investors and then some politicians ー has allowed MedMen to scale its operation, which now includes 14 retail locations in four states. Yi said the plan is to expand to 66 locations in two years.
Yi also said he hopes the legalization efforts in Canada will exert pressure on the "crazy federal laws" for marijuana in the U.S., where it's still classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the DEA ー a category that also includes heroin and cocaine.
Canada's entire legal weed market is estimated to be worth around $6.5 billion ー far less than the established $11 billion market in just the state of California. The potential national cannabis market in the U.S. is $75 billion, Yi said.
"From an economic standpoint, I don't think Canada is going to be a huge game changer."
But what it does politically will be priceless, he said, by "expanding a global conversation" over the potential for cannabis ー whether it's as an opioid replacement or just as a cure for a stressful week.
For full interview click here.