Verano Holdings of Chicago, a marijuana operator, is getting a nice paycheck soon.

The company is being acquired by a company based in Phoenix for $850 million.

Harvest Health & Recreation will have the right to operate Verano’s cultivation facility and dispensaries in Illinois, as well as its operations in other states as part of the deal. Verano’s Chicago headquarters is expected to remain an operations hub after the acquisition.

According to Harvest Health’s CEO Steve White, the company has been eyeing an entrance into Illinois for a long time. White believes that Illinois is an attractive market due to how heavily populated it is and that lawmakers are drafting a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use.

“We wanted to make sure we were participating in a meaningful way before those conversations were at a crescendo,” White remarked. “As that conversation starts moving forward, the price of assets in Illinois goes up.”

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2019 and is pending regulatory approval.

“The way U.S. cannabis is evolving, we’re in the land-grab phase of that evolution,” White said. “There are two ways to acquire licenses. You have to essentially do both of them to win the land grab.”

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