Wrigley joins Georgia-based medical marijuana company as chairman

One of America’s most iconic names has joined with Surterra Wellness, infusing the Atlanta-based medical cannabis company with millions of dollars, Surterra announced Monday.

William Wrigley Jr., former CEO of chewing gum giant Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, joined Surterra as chairman of its board of directors after leading the fundraising of $65 million for the company, which is licensed to operate dispensaries in Florida and Texas.

Wrigley’s jump into the medical marijuana industry reflects changing attitudes towards the substance in some areas of the country, as legal cannabis becomes an increasingly widespread and lucrative business.

“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,” Wrigley said in a statement released by Surterra.

The $65 million was part of a fundraising round which ended in July. Surterra has raised a total of $100 million since 2015, the company announced in a press release. The funds are to be used to help Surterra grow by increasing its cultivation space in Florida, carrying out clinical trials on cannabis treatment and improving its product development, the company said.

Surterra does not plan to be confined to medical marijuana for long. The company looks to get involved in the U.S. recreational market, Wrigley told Bloomberg Monday. Recreational marijuana is legal in nine U.S. states, and the legal cannabis industry generated a $16 billion economic impact in the U.S. in 2017, according to BDS Analytics.

Surterra, founded in 2014, currently operates 10 dispensaries in Florida. The company also has a license to operate in Texas but has not yet opened any dispensaries there.

Surterra is headquartered in Atlanta but does not have any medical cannabis operations in Georgia. State law allows the possession of cannabis oil to treat conditions from seizures to PTSD. The law does not allow the transportation or purchase of medical marijuana, making it impossible for dispensaries to operate or for patients to obtain cannabis in Georgia.