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How a chewing gum heir fell into a sticky situation with weed

Beau Wrigley’s cannabis company is beset by lawsuits filed by angry investors alleging fraud.

William “Beau” Wrigley Jr. envisioned building a weed empire that would one day rival his family’s legendary chewing gum business.

The former CEO of the Wrigley Company — which was sold to Mars for $23 billion in 2008 — led a $65 million investment in 2018 in Surterra Wellness, which primarily did business in Florida’s fledgling medical marijuana market.

Shortly thereafter, Wrigley took over as Surterra’s CEO, but the path forward would prove to be messy.

In the ensuing years, the company — eventually rebranded Parallel — expanded its footprint into Massachusetts, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas. And it recruited the type of big-time executives that typically shy away from the quasi-legal cannabis industry.

By the end of 2022, Parallel boasted that it was on course to have 86 dispensaries across eight markets and revenues in excess of $600 million.

“I think this can be bigger than the Wrigley company,” Wrigley told Forbes magazine for a cover story in February 2021. “At Wrigley, we brought joy to people’s lives. This is much bigger than that.”

That same month, Parallel announced in a press release a blockbuster deal that if consummated would solidify its plans to become a major national player in the booming $30-billion-plus cannabis industry. Ceres Acquisition Corp. — a special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, co-founded by music mogul Scooter Braun, whose clients have included Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande — planned to purchase Parallel and take it public in a deal valued at $1.9 billion. [Read More @ Politico]

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