Curaleaf Holdings Inc., the most valuable U.S. marijuana company, is making a big bet on cannabis oil.

The Massachusetts-based company is buying the regulated cannabis business of Cura Partners Inc., a maker of oil for vape pens, in a stock deal valued at about $1.27 billion (US$950 million). That makes it the largest acquisition so far between U.S. cannabis companies. Cura, based in Portland, Oregon, sells its Select brand marijuana products in more than 900 dispensaries, including in California, which is home to the world’s largest legal weed market. It had revenue of about US$117 million last year.

Acquiring Select gives Curaleaf a popular West Coast brand it can sell at its dispensaries around the U.S., according Boris Jordan, the company’s chairman.

Curaleaf shares jumped as much as 11 per cent in Toronto after the news. The stock has more than doubled so far in 2019.

A wave of consolidation has hit the American pot industry in recent weeks, with large multistate operators gobbling up smaller companies as they race to build a national presence even as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Cresco Labs Inc. and Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., two Curaleaf competitors, each announced deals worth more than $800 million in the last two months.

Most recently, Acreage Holdings Inc., another of the most valuable U.S. weed companies, agreed to be acquired by Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp. The US$3.4 billion merger, which would give Canopy access to the lucrative U.S. weed market, is contingent on the federal government changing its marijuana rules.

Curaleaf, which has a market value north of US$3 billion, has 44 dispensaries and operates in 12 states, including New York and Massachusetts. The company recently announced it would start selling products containing CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabis compound, at CVS. Cura Partners has a line of CBD oil, but that business is being spun out following the acquisition by Curaleaf.

Jordan rejected the idea that the company was under pressure to do a deal following the merger action by its competitors. He said he started talking to Cura Partners more than a year ago and was recently able to get it done.

“We’ve broken away from the rest of the industry with this,” he said.

--With assistance from Kristine Owram

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