Chewing gum heir William H. Wrigley Jr. II has been named the chairman of the board of a medical marijuana company. The new position comes following a substantial investment in Surterra Wellness by the billionaire.
Last September, Wrigley, who goes by the name Beau, made his initial investment in Surterra. And this year, he led a $65 million dollar investment round, bringing the total raised for the company to more than $100 million.
Wrigley said in an interview that he became interested in the business after learning about the impact medicinal cannabis can have on people’s lives.
“When I understood the massive benefits, it really changed my mind about the industry,” Wrigley said. “You don’t see too many opportunities to have that kind of an impact in an industry that is being created from scratch.”
Wrigley, 54, is the great-grandson of William J. Wrigley Jr., who founded the famous chewing gum company in 1891. Beau Wrigley served as the president and CEO of the firm from 1999 until 2006 and has been chairman of the board since 2004. In 2008, he helped negotiate a deal to sell the family business to Mars Inc. Wrigley is currently the president of venture capital investment firm Wychwood Asset Management LLC and serves on the board of directors of several corporations.
Joins Medical Marijuana Startup
Surterra Wellness is a medical marijuana startup based in Georgia. The company was founded in 2014 and has licenses to operate in Florida and Texas. Surterra operates 10 medical marijuana dispensaries and three delivery distribution centers in Florida, supported by over 300,000 square feet of cultivation space. The company offers cannabis vape pens, tinctures, oils, lotions, sprays, and transdermal patches in the Sunshine State. In Texas, the firm is currently growing its first crop of low-THC cannabis that will be available for delivery throughout the state.
With its new injection of cash from the latest investment round, Surterra plans a significant expansion of cultivation space in Florida and will pursue partnerships with premier cannabis brands. The company also expects to accelerate product development, conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabinoid therapies to treat anxiety, pain, and PTSD, and expand into other states with legal cannabis markets.
Jake Bergmann, the CEO of Surterra, said that Wrigley’s input will be valuable to the company as it grows.
“Surterra is proud to welcome Beau, a business leader who brings decades of world class experience and expertise in brand building, to Surterra Wellness,” Bergmann said. “Having a seasoned industry veteran like Beau intimately involved in building Surterra’s business is exciting for the future of Surterra, our patients and the entire medical cannabis industry.”
Wrigley said that the while the cannabis industry offers great business opportunities, it isn’t a sure thing.
“Everyone seems to be in there because they think they’re going to make tons of money,” Wrigley said. “Some will and some will be sorely surprised when they understand how complex it is.”
Wrigley said that he and Surterra see a bright future for the company and the industry as a whole.
“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.