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Will Tilray snap up an MSO pre-legalization?

Tilray CEO Irwin Simon says the company is actively shopping for the right multi-state cannabis operator to forge a path into the US market.

“I’m looking at MSOs that would be the right strategic fit,” he told Insider. “I’m looking at assets that have a good adult-use business, have a good medical business, have brands.”

The criteria

Tilray can certainly afford it, with $500 million in cash burning a hole in their pocket. But Simon is aiming high, aspiring to own the whole supply chain, from cultivation to retail. 

But he’s also casting a wide net, saying that if that’s not possible, he is looking at wholesale companies, then retailers, then cultivators and manufacturers. And he’s also open to a third option — acquiring a non-cannabis company with the right assets and transforming it into a cannabis company as federal policies evolve.

The timing

Before Tilray and Aphria merged, Simon led Aphria’s acquisition of Atlanta-based Sweetwater, a company that’s so far focused on booze, not cannabis. The move indicated that the CEO wanted to start making plans for the US cannabis market, but he was waiting for federal legalization. 

That’s changed. Simon told Insider that they may also try to mimic Canopy’s strategy, which is an option to buy a majority stake in Acreage Holdings when legalization happens.

“I’m making a big bet,” he said. “It’s kind of like I’m getting married to someone that I’ve never met in my life before. I gotta be married to them, but I can’t live with them for the next few years until we’re both legal.”

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