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Updated: June 17, 2019 FOCUS: Health Care

Publicly traded pot company sees growth in CT

Q&A talks with Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a Florida-based cannabis company.

Q. Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp. recently agreed to acquire for an undisclosed price The Healing Corner Inc., a Bristol medical marijuana dispensary that opened in 2014.

In addition to its first foray into Connecticut, the company, which already reports dominant market share in Florida, acquired Life Essence in Massachusetts and Leef Industries in California. Why is this multi-state expansion happening now?

Kim Rivers CEO of Trulieve Cannabis Corp.

A. Trulieve went public in Sept. 2018. The company entered the capital market with strategic plans to leverage the successful go-to-market strategy we were experiencing in Florida and build a national brand as U.S. states continue to adopt both medical and recreational marijuana.

We are executing on our multi-state expansion in a thoughtful way with solid financial discipline and a focus on operations as we believe this is key to building a strong company foundation for continued growth.

Q. What is Trulieve’s interest in the Connecticut market, which has far fewer registered medical marijuana patients (33,382) than Florida (over 148,000)? Are you banking on additional opportunity that could arise for dispensaries if Connecticut lawmakers eventually legalize recreational marijuana? Or, are you interested in this market regardless of whether Connecticut legalizes?

A. We see Connecticut as an exciting market for us even though it is not at the same level yet as we are in Florida. And, as we’ve stated, our expansion focus is in the Northeast. It’s early still for Connecticut and with the limited dispensaries and physician network, we do not believe it has reached its full potential growth rate.

We have spent a lot of time in Florida educating patients and doctors and that has helped with awareness and acceptance as well as growth to where we are today. We believe this approach should also work well here in Connecticut in order to reach the population that would truly benefit from medical marijuana use.

The legalization of recreational marijuana would certainly be advantageous and a welcomed outcome, but Trulieve’s background is in medical marijuana and The Healing Corner shares our patient philosophy.

Q. Florida’s medical program is “vertically integrated,” which means marijuana growers can also sell the drug, while Connecticut’s is not. How big of a deal is that for Trulieve?

A. While Connecticut is not a vertically integrated state, it is a medical-only state with which we are very familiar here in the state of Florida. Many of Florida’s “snowbirds” from Connecticut are likely very familiar with Trulieve and its focus on the patient, which we feel will be beneficial for us.

Additionally, Trulieve is already in a non-vertically integrated state (California) so the concept is not foreign to us. In addition to the current offerings at the dispensary, Trulieve can use some of its established relationships and partnerships to introduce the high-quality products for which Trulieve is known.

Q. Connecticut has seen several dispensaries and a grower acquired in the past 10 months. As a pending acquirer here, how competitive do you perceive the dispensary market to be in Connecticut? Are there a lot of competing buyers out there sniffing around for licenses?

A. We expect to see a lot of competition in Connecticut. As in many other states, the cannabis market continues to grow and we welcome the competition. It helps to define our brand, which we feel is very beneficial for us.

We have no idea if there are other buyers looking for licenses as we focus on attracting partners with quality products and building strong business fundamentals.

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June 26, 2019

They chose the best dispensary to acquire. I would invest in them.

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