New York-based marijuana giant plans to acquire 2 Chicago weed dispensaries

AWH, which has a cultivation center in Barry and two downstate dispensaries, aims to buy MOCA Modern Cannabis shops in Logan Square, River North.

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MOCA’s cannabis dispensary in River North.

MOCA’s cannabis dispensary in River North.

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A major cannabis company headquartered in New York City announced plans Tuesday to acquire a pair of Chicago marijuana shops.

AWH, which operates a cultivation center in Barry and two downstate dispensaries, agreed to acquire MOCA Modern Cannabis’ flagship location in Logan Square and a newly opened store in River North. The deal still needs to be approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which oversees dispensaries.

“MOCA has been a leading player in the Chicago market, and we are excited to pair it with our Illinois Supply & Provisions dispensaries, which include the top-performing retail outlet in the state in Collinsville,” said AWH’s founder Abner Kurtin. 

The news comes as AWH announced its latest funding round of $69 million. Last week, Innovative Industrial Properties, the San Diego real estate investment trust that owns the Barry grow center, also made an additional $18 million available to expand the facility.

The new acquisitions would give AWH six retail marijuana licenses in Illinois, though the company plans to “seek new acquisitions and partnership opportunities to reach the state limit of 10 licenses per ownership group.”

AWH also has operations in Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The company, formerly known as Ascend Wellness Holdings, was previously based in Boston.

The Chicago dispensaries would keep the MOCA name, and the store’s current owners would continue to run them.

MOCA’s shop in Logan Square, 2847 W. Fullerton Ave., was one of the city’s first and now sells medical and recreational weed. Its new store, 216 W. Ohio St., exclusively serves adult-use customers.

Burglars broke in to the Logan Square store in January and stole more than $100,000 in cash. The new location was shut down by the city just days after opening in July. That store has since reopened.

“We are excited for the next step forward on this crazy cannabis journey,” MOCA’s co-owner Danny Marks told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We believe we are stronger together with a cultivator partner, and AWH is a great fit for us.”

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