Last month, Connecticut became the 19th state to pass legislation to permit recreational marijuana use, and sales could commence by May of next year. In a few years the market could be worth over $700 million. And while it likely won’t be anywhere near the size of the markets in nearby New Jersey or New York, it’s still an attractive market in the Northeast U.S.
Many multistate operators (MSOs) are already active in Connecticut and could be ready to go when the recreational market officially opens up, including Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF), Curaleaf (OTC:CURLF), and Trulieve (OTC:TCNNF). Here’s a look at how big of a footprint each company has in the state:
1. Green Thumb Industries
Green Thumb first entered the Connecticut market in 2019 through the acquisition of grower/processor Advanced Grow Labs. Today it has two locations in the state under its Bluepoint Wellness brand, which focuses on compassionate care and providing consumers with a safe clinical setting. The dispensaries are located in Brantford and Westport.
Although Connecticut isn’t a huge market for Green Thumb — its flagship retail brand, Rise, doesn’t have any stores there — the company has been targeting new markets, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it made more moves to expand its presence there even further. Virginia, for example, passed legislation in April to legalize adult-use pot, and by May Green Thumb had announced it would be entering the market there through the acquisition of Dharma Pharmaceuticals.
The company moves fast, and Green Thumb’s latest earnings report next month may provide an update on its plans for Connecticut now that legalization is on the horizon. For the period ending March 31, the company’s sales grew by 90% year-over-year to more than $194 million. Green Thumb generates revenue in 12 markets (including Connecticut), and the stock could be a great buy for investors who want to tap into a company with a presence in some attractive states — including New York and New Jersey, which also legalized recreational marijuana this year.
Curaleaf is an even larger MSO and is active in 23 states across the country, including Connecticut, where it has four dispensaries located in Groton, Hartford, Milford, and Stamford. Its presence in the state goes back to 2014, which is when it first began cultivating there (Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012). In June 2020, the company expanded its popular Select brand into the state. Curaleaf acquired Select in February of that year, and has made it part of its aggressive growth strategy ever since.
In March, the company also launched one of its newest products, Select Squeeze, which is a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) beverage enhancer, in Connecticut and other markets. Products that focus on THC (which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) can help medical marijuana customers, but might have even more potential in the recreational market.
Like Green Thumb, Curaleaf will also report its latest results next month. In its most recent quarter, representing the first three months of 2021, sales of $260 million represented mammoth growth of 170% year over year. And while management didn’t single out Connecticut as a big part of that growth, they did mention raising $300 million in capital to scale into new recreational markets. With Connecticut now included in that list, investors should look for Curaleaf to potentially spend even more to boost its presence in that state as well. If you’re a growth-oriented investor, Curaleaf is a stock you won’t want to overlook — it could be among the most aggressive in Connecticut, as well as other new recreational marijuana markets.
Trulieve is the least aggressive MSO on this list, but it too has a presence in Connecticut — one location in Bristol. The company acquired The Healing Corner in 2019, which helped it expand into the state. At the time, Connecticut marked the fourth state the Florida-based marijuana company had entered, though it has expanded into more markets since then. The move was an important one for the company, as CEO Kim Rivers sees expansion beyond Florida — where the bulk of its dispensaries are located — as crucial in developing a greater presence across the country. The New England market has been a key target for Trulieve; it has recently begun cultivation activities in Massachusetts, and expects its first harvest there later this year.
Although Trulieve hasn’t expanded its position in Connecticut since that 2019 acquisition, the company is known for taking a slower, more methodical approach to its expansion than some of its peers. But now that the opportunity there has become much more attractive, it wouldn’t be surprising if Trulieve were to focus more of its efforts in that state. It has been more aggressive of late, most notably with the $2.1 billion acquisition of Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation earlier this year.
Trulieve is getting much bigger, and more moves could be ahead. For the period ending March 31, sales of $194 million doubled last year’s tally of $96 million. It was also the 13th straight period in which the company posted a profit. For investors looking for a more conservative growth strategy from a cannabis company that is focused on maintaining a strong bottom line, Trulieve may prove to be a great investment.
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