ATLANTA- The former CEO of Wrigley Gum is entering the cannabis industry.
Wiliam Wrigley Jr. II is one of the lead investors in Suterra Wellness, a cannabis company based in Georgia. Suterra has its headquarters in Atlanta but currently holds licenses for cannabis operations in Texas and Florida. Wrigley, a billionaire, has invested $65 million in Suterra. Overall, Suterra has secured approximately $100 million in investment.
Wrigley seemed to be in the market for a new venture. He oversaw the sale of his family’s chewing gum company to Mars Inc. in 2008. Wrigley now operates an investment firm based in West Palm Beach. After an initial investment in the cannabis company last September, Wrigley decided to up his contribution and will now serve as the Chairman of Suterra. He plans on utilizing his experience in large-scale distribution and product branding while leading Suterra.
According to Wrigley, cannabis’s medicinal benefits are what attracted him to the industry.
“When I understood the massive benefits, it really changed my mind about the industry,” Wrigley said recently, according to Bloomberg, in his first public comments about investing in Suterra. “You don’t see too many opportunities to have that kind of an impact in an industry that is being created from scratch.”
Despite his excitement about medicinal cannabis, Wrigley is taking a measured approach toward recreational cannabis. Suterra represents his first investment in the industry. Wrigley eventually plans to join the recreational market but seems to be waiting for the dust to settle. Without access to banking, traditional capital, or tax incentives, success in the cannabis industry is far from a guarantee, despite what some outsiders may think.
“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.”
Transitioning from a traditional industry into the green rush, Wrigley is part of a growing trend. Last week, we reported that Molson Coors announced plans to produce an alcohol-free cannabis-infused beer.