Sale of MA Cannabis Cultivator-Dispensary to National Firm is Worth Watching as Industry Consolidation Ensues

By Benjamin L. Rackliffe January 22, 2019Business

Cannabis industry watchers can expect that the tale of New England Treatment Access (NETA) – one of Massachusetts’ first registered marijuana dispensaries and a predominant player in the Commonwealth’s burgeoning recreational marketplace – leading to its sale to a national company will be duplicated in the New England region.

As the storyline goes, investors work to establish a cultivation and dispensary, obtain licensure, and then sell to and consolidate with a larger, oftentimes, a national firm within the cannabis space. The cycle has already played out and will continue in more established state-sanctioned markets such as California, Oregon, Washington State and Nevada. In the case of NETA, Georgia-based Surterra Wellness, a cannabis firm that operates over 20 cannabis facilities in various locations, has agreed to acquire NETA through a combination cash and stock transaction.

Industry consolidation is becoming commonplace.  While cannabis operators work within jurisdictional silos given state-specific laws and regulations, industry experts see increased value in undertaking corporate “roll-ups” to increase market presence and branding on a national basis, while allowing for needed funding to complete facility buildouts and physical expansions. Such transactions are also appealing for the long-term game – national legalization – which has already come to fruition in other nations. The best example to date is Canada’s cannabis industry.

However, corporate roll-ups come with certain risks. Proper structuring of the deal requires experience in corporate law and regulatory arenas to ensure the process goes smoothly and that interests are adequately protected. Moreover, due diligence is advisable in such a transaction, including by the company targeted for acquisition. The due diligence process will confirm the value of the consolidation and protect company and investor interests once the acquisition has been approved by the proper regulatory bodies and consummated. Experienced legal counsel is, therefore, a virtual necessity. PLDO Partner Benjamin L. Rackliffe, who is a leading authority on licensing, compliance and regulatory law in the cannabis industry in New England and multiple other states, has successfully advised investors and owners of cannabis facilities. He is available to provide counsel on corporate roll-ups and other legal issues regarding business matters in the cannabis industry. He can be reached at 401-824-5100 or email



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Benjamin L. Rackliffe is a Partner with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O'Gara LLC and a member of the firm's Corporate & Business and Nonprofit Organizations Teams. He concentrates his practice in the areas of closely held business and tax-exempt organizations, and is considered a leading authority in the areas of corporate and regulatory compliance.

Prior to joining PLDO, Attorney Rackliffe served as assistant general counsel to a hospitality and real estate development corporation and was an associate attorney for a Rhode Island-based construction and engineering litigation firm representing multinational and U.S. contractor corporations. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Roger Williams University School of Law Pro Bono Collaborative and on the Board of Directors of The Steel Yard. For several years, Attorney Rackliffe was named a Rhode Island Rising Star by Thomson Reuters, a distinction that recognizes the top 2.5 percent of Rhode Island lawyers under the age of 40 or those in practice for 10 years or less.

Attorney Rackliffe earned his J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law and his undergraduate degree in 2004 from Providence College, where he is a Special Lecturer for an undergraduate course entitled, Legal Environment of Business. He is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, and is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association, the New York Bar Association and the American Bar Association. To contact Attorney Rackliffe, please call 401-824-5100 or email

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