Curaleaf, a U.S. marijuana company valued Monday at $4 billion, has big plans for the Keystone State.
Formerly known as PalliaTech, the Massachusetts-based grower and retailer started trading this week on the Canadian Securities Exchange after a reverse merger with Lead Ventures Inc.
Curaleaf has operations in 10 states with permits pending in California and Pennsylvania. That makes it one of the biggest cannabis companies operating in the United States.
In its prospectus Curaleaf discusses a growth strategy that includes opening six dispensaries in Pennsylvania and planting a 49,200-square-foot indoor growing facility in King of Prussia.
Curaleaf said it has partnered with an ""academic clinical research center," or ACRC, to ensure those projects will launch. Though not identified in the filing, the ACRC is said to be the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, which received ACRC status from the state in September.
Curaleaf management has ties to Penn. Katrina Yolen, Curaleaf's senior vice president of marketing, and Eduard Kelenchuk senior vice president of business development, both earned MBAs from Penn's Wharton School of Business. Board director Karl Johansson — currently a managing partner at Ernst & Young — received his law degree from Penn Law.
The formal partnership between Curaleaf and Penn Medicine, however, still must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While not a certainty, industry insiders say the fix is in. Curaleaf's relationship with Penn extends back almost two years.
Curaleaf has petitioned to become a "clinical registrant" under the state's medical-marijuana program, but applications are not due until Nov. 8. Curaleaf says it will be operational in Pennsylvania by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
When Curaleaf applied for a commercial permit to grow marijuana under the PalliaTech name during Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the state program, the company did not score highly enough to win.
Some of the state's established marijuana growers and dispensary owners have complained that Curaleaf/PalliaTech's agreement with Penn unfairly circumvents a highly competitive application process.
A lawsuit making those claims — which named several of the partnerships between other growers and Pennsylvania medical schools — was filed in Commonwealth Court, but the suit was rendered moot earlier this summer when the state rewrote the regulations that govern the program.
Curaleaf has a large operation in Bellmawr.
For more news about medical and recreational marijuana, visit Philly.com/cannabis.