Las Vegas Sun

June 25, 2019

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Las Vegas-based Essence marijuana operation selling for $290 million

Essence Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Steve Marcus

A view of the lobby at the Essence Cannabis Dispensary, 4300 East Sunset Road in Henderson, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. The company has three locations in the Las Vegas Valley, including one on the Las Vegas Strip.

Owners of Las Vegas’ largest marijuana dispensary and cultivation operation announced today they are selling the business for $290 million.

Armen Yemenidjian, co-owner of Integral Associates, which owns and operates three Essence Cannabis Dispensary locations and the Desert Grown Farms and Cannabiotix Nevada cultivation and processing facilities, announced the sale to Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries.

Green Thumb, publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, employs 450 people across eight U.S. states in which pot is legal.

Under terms of the sale, Integral Associates will receive $52 million in cash and 20.8 million shares of Green Thumb stock, officials said.

Yemenidjian will join Green Thumb’s senior leadership team. His father, Alex Yemenidjian, the former CEO of the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., will join its board of directors.

The deal is expected to close in early 2019.

“The partnership is ideally positioned to bring our business to the next level,” Armen Yemenidjian said. “Today is a big win for Nevada communities and the customers we’ll continue to serve.”

Green Thumb CEO Ben Kovler said the company targeted the Nevada market because of its exclusivity for licensed recreational marijuana operators.

While most of the other seven recreational pot-legal states offer unlimited licenses to meet customer demand, the Nevada Department of Taxation caps the number of licenses per county based on population. The restrictions have caused the value of individual licenses to soar.

“We are thrilled to expand GTI’s production, distribution and retail footprint in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world,” Kovler said.

Green Thumb, which entered the Nevada market in 2016, also owns two dispensaries and a cultivation facility in Northern Nevada.

Integral Associates is one of several local marijuana companies to sell its operations to larger companies in recent months. Most notably, Nevada Organic Remedies, which operates The+Source dispensaries, sold four of its six licenses in July for $56 million.

Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary.