December 5, 2022

Published: 11/24/2022 4:27:39 PM

Modified: 11/24/2022 4:27:29 PM

GREENFIELD — In a push to create the largest Black-owned marijuana company in the world, businessman and entertainment icon Sean “Diddy” Combs has agreed to buy Greenfield’s Patriot Care dispensary.

Columbia Care, which owns Patriot Care, and Combs Enterprises released a collaborative statement earlier this month framing the pending deal as a move that “will create the country’s first minority-owned and operated, vertically integrated multi-state (cannabis) operator.” The transaction is part of a $185 million deal through which Combs Enterprises is acquiring assets in New York, Illinois and Massachusetts from Cresco Labs and Columbia Care. Acquisition of Patriot Care makes Greenfield one of the deal’s three involved Massachusetts communities, joining Worcester and Leicester.

“These assets offer the Combs’ team significant market presence, enabling them to make the most impact on the industry as a whole,” Columbia Care CEO and co-founder Nicholas Vita said in the statement. “It’s been clear to us that Sean has the right team to carry on the strong legacy of these Columbia Care and Cresco Labs facilities, and we can’t wait to see how he helps shape the cannabis industry going forward through his entrepreneurial leadership and innovation.”

The statement notes that cannabis is the nation’s fastest-growing industry. Aside from being a lucrative business venture, the deal is a major step toward social equity, Combs emphasized.

“My mission has always been to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in industries where we’ve traditionally been denied access, and this acquisition provides the immediate scale and impact needed to create a more equitable future in cannabis,” Combs, chair and CEO of Combs Enterprises, said in the statement. “Owning the entire process — from growing and manufacturing to marketing, retail and wholesale distribution — is a historic win for the culture that will allow us to empower diverse leaders throughout the ecosystem and be bold advocates for inclusion.”

Cresco Labs and Columbia Care cited Combs’ impressive resumé as cause for excitement. The statement recognizes Combs as “one of the most successful entrepreneurs and cultural icons of all time” who boasts “a diverse portfolio of business and investments covering the music, fashion, fragrance, beverage, marketing, film, television and media industries.”

“We think he’s going to do some really incredible work in this space based on his entrepreneurial spirit and proven track record,” Adam Goers, Columbia Care’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, wrote in an email.

“We’re all pretty excited,” said Nicole Rannikko, general manager of Patriot Care. “We hope it brings new things.”

Goers added that those at Columbia Care “absolutely see the need for” Combs’ mission to uplift Black entrepreneurs and diversify the cannabis industry.

“When thinking about this divestiture, we wanted someone with a similar passion and intent to create a more inclusive industry,” Goers wrote. “We look forward to watching the impact he brings to the cannabis industry in Massachusetts and beyond.”

Rannikko said her company is hopeful the deal can be finalized by early next year. She said Patriot Care has not been made aware of any potential changes or disruptions to service in the meantime.

“We run a really great dispensary here,” she said. “As long as that continues, that’s all we care about.”

“We hope the local community will be as excited about Combs Enterprises as we are,” Goers added. “We want the industry to succeed and felt that this was a strategic move to help make that a reality. From an operational standpoint, it’s business as usual until this deal closes.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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