CeresMED, formerly the Champlain Valley Dispensary, announced Monday that it has merged its cannabis business with a Canadian corporation in a deal worth $25 million.
The merger with Toronto-based SLANG Worldwide, a publicly traded cannabis company with operations in 12 U.S. states, will allow Ceres to expand its offerings to Vermont consumers and roughly double its workforce to about 100 employees, said Bridget Conry, director of brand experience.
“An overwhelming majority of our investors, until now, have been Vermonters,” Conry said of the company she co-founded a decade ago. “Now we’re in a position to bring investment into the state.”
Plans are already underway for a 50,000-square-foot expansion of its Milton facility.
Vermont’s market for adult retail sales of marijuana will open to Ceres and other licensed producers when taxes and regulations are finalized in 2022.
Ceres currently makes and sells O.Pen cannabis vaporizer cartridges through a licensing agreement with SLANG.
The Vermont company will likely license and produce some of SLANG’s edible products that have proven popular around the country, like Lunchbox Alchemy, Conry said.
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Ceres has two medical cannabis licenses that allow it to grow, process, test and sell its product through four dispensaries — broadly seen as a built-in advantage in an industry-wide rush for retail sales.
The company also owns retail stores in Burlington, Middlebury and Brattleboro, where it sells non-intoxicating, health-related CBD products.
“We began as a nonprofit in 2011 with two employees,” Conry said Friday. “We’re one of those Vermont companies that started small and grew.”
Vermont’s relatively small population, its thriving illegal or “legacy” market for pot — as well as constraints against interstate commerce for psychoactive cannabis — will keep Ceres’ growth modest.
In other words, Conry said, Ceres has no intentions of growing big enough to steamroll the competition; her company depends on local craft growers to freshen up its product lines.
Locally formulated cannabis concoctions, she added, could be licensed nationwide, through SLANG.
Medical marijuana has never been a highly lucrative business, Conry added, but it will continue to steer Ceres.
“We owe a lot to our patients,” she explained. “They’re the ones who got the whole thing started.”
That local ethos will persist, Ceres Executive Director Shayne Lynn wrote in a statement released by the Canadian firm.
“With this transaction, we will be able to share experience and resources to help build new regional brands and create a new business model in the industry,” Lynn added.
Lynn is expected to join SLANG’s board of directors, the release adds.
Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.