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TerraLeaf Dispensaries and Education Center on Dec. 2 in Huntington.

Trulieve is the world’s largest cannabis company after acquiring another mammoth, Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. for $2 billion.

Closer to home, the cannabis king also pulled off a transaction crucial to future West Virginia operations, buying Mountaineer Holding in a $6 million cash-and-stock acquisition, according to the online cannabis publication MJBizDaily. That deal happened earlier this year.

The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis did not initially award Trulieve a growing license. That would have forced the company to buy product from someone else. Now that it has a growing license via Mountaineer Holding, other companies might be coming to Trulieve, provided it can satisfy the two dispensaries it operates in Morgantown and Weston.

Those two stores have been experiencing unpredictable supply. The Weston store is closed five days a week and the Morgantown location, four days, according to the dispensaries’ Facebook page.

Trulieve used the growing permit it obtained by buying Mountaineer to set up in a 100,000-square-foot facility on W.Va. 2, near Lesage in Cabell County. The Huntington Area Development Council marketed the building to Trulieve.

Buying Mountaineer gave Trulieve licenses to grow, process and dispense in West Virginia, an arrangement known as integrated or vertical provision. Mountaineer Holding was one of the original companies awarded a growing license by the state Office of Medical Cannabis.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s business registry lists Mountaineer Holding at 300 Capitol St. Managers are Chris Stock, Aaron Haid and Eddie Workman. The organizer is Jonathan Deem. Records say it is doing business as Trulieve, effective Oct. 7.

Jason Frame, director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, told an audience at the agency’s last quarterly meeting that only three of 10 permitted growers are doing so. The other two are Columbia Care in Martinsburg and Harvest Care Medical in Bridgeport, Department of Health and Human Resources Director Alison Adler said in an email. Both are also integrated providers, meaning their product will be funneled first to their dispensaries. Licenses exist for 100 different dispensaries.

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Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers told MJBizDaily the Mountaineer Holding deal “positions Trulieve for vertical operations in West Virginia. Our teams have already been at work in the state and adding Mountaineer to our portfolio provides significant potential for depth and scale. We look forward to serving West Virginia patients and expect to be operational before the end of 2021.”

Trulieve proved true to its word, opening the northern West Virginia dispensaries in November.

In wake of the Trulieve openings, officials at TerraLeaf, another national concern, said they’re unsure when they’ll open a Huntington dispensary because of a lack of available product. TerraLeaf planned to open in the first week of December. The company has no growing permit.

“They over-licensed the state,” TerraLeaf owner Chris Visco told WSAZ-TV. “[Patients] have waited four years and now there is product but it won’t be available to them.”

TerraLeaf is putting off its dispensary opening by touting a new education center. The center is supposed to expound on the different elements of cannabis, including strains, terpenes and methods of consumption.

“Located at 2018 Third Avenue in Huntington, TerraLeaf is the first women-owned medical cannabis dispensary in the state of West Virginia,” a news release said. “The 5,000 square foot space is divided to offer a community education center in addition to a dispensary, which will open at a later date.”

The Education Center will help new patients register for their medical cannabis cards and print cards for those who have been approved. The company plans to roll out dispensary operations in the coming months, if patient count improves and enough product is available. Fewer than 3,500 patients possessed medical cards as of earlier this week, Adler said.

Greg Stone covers business. He can be reached at 304-348-5124 or gstone@hdmediallc.com.

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