Some of the richest people outside of cannabis are betting big on legal weed. Last year, Wrigley’s gum billionaire William Wrigley Jr. II, also known as Beau, made an initial investment in a Georgia-based medical cannabis company. As the cannabis industry booms on the East and West Coasts, this Wrigley chewing gum billionaire invests in cannabis and takes a big role in the growing company’s future.
From Gum to Ganja
Beau Wrigley inherited Wrigley’s gum from his grandfather, William Wrigley the first. As CEO, Wrigley acquired popular brands like Altoids and Life Savers. And in 2008, Wrigley Chewing Gum made headlines when it sold to Mars Candy for an impressive $23 billion according to the Guardian. Forbes estimates that Beau Wrigley is worth $2.7 billion today.
Recently, Wrigley reevaluated his opinion of legal weed. “When I understood the massive benefits, it really changed my mind about the industry,” he told Bloomberg. Last year, Wrigley cautiously invested Surterra Wellness through his West Palm Beach investment firm. Though based in Georgia, Surterra has 10 dispensaries in Florida and a state-wide delivery service. They’ve also acquired a grow license for Texas, a largely untapped medical cannabis market.
With hefty funding and a foothold in Texas and Florida, the second and third most populous states, Surterra could dominate the southern cannabis market. Though beginning as a medical cannabis dispensary, Surterra intends on moving into recreational weed, too.
Wrigley Chewing Gum Billionaire Invests In Cannabis
After his early investment’s success, Wrigley led a massive investment round in 2018. The chewing gum billionaire invested $65 million in Surterra and brought the total investment to $100 million. This comes along with the new title of Chairman of the Board. More than signaling Surterra’s future success, Wrigley’s investment conveys that traditionally more conservative investors are increasingly enthusiastic when it comes to investing in legal weed.
For investors of all sorts, especially those who can afford to gamble with a nascent industry, legal weed is the perfect opportunity. The gum billionaire explained, “You don’t see too many opportunities to have that kind of an impact in an industry that is being created from scratch.”
Wrigley’s cannabis investment was a shrewd move for Surterra as well. The gum billionaire has significant experience with branding, food safety regulations and running a profitable international brand. Food and cannabis are two of the highest regulated industries in North America, so it makes sense that leaders in food and beverage are transitioning to careers in the legal weed industry.
The Wild West of Legal Weed
Fueled by cannabis investment success stories, more and more people perceive weed as a way to get rich quickly. But, as Wrigley understands, the cannabis industry faces many hurdles. “Everyone seems to be in there because they think they’re going to make tons of money,” he added. “Some will and some will be sorely surprised when they understand how complex it is.”
The financial realities of running a plant touching cannabis company range from complex to ruinous. One of the biggest obstacles confronting the industry is uncertainty: The current presidential administration has shifted between prosecuting legal cannabis industry members and foreshadowing national legalization.
Despite this, cannabis is an increasingly good bet—if you know what you’re doing. Legal weed is booming on both coasts, and the FDA just approved the first cannabis-based drug. Furthermore, the closer we get to Canadian legalization, the most investment dollars cross the border. No one—from regulators to lobbyists to entrepeneurs—wants to miss a once in a century opportunity, especially to a neighboring country.