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Parallel CEO says $1.9 billion SPAC deal will help it fund R&D efforts and look for acquisitions

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Cannabis company Parallel is prioritizing research and development to position itself ahead of its competitors, CEO Beau Wrigley said Tuesday.

“We’ve invested a lot in R&D and that differentiates us from a lot of other companies out there because there’s so much technology and capability that can go into some of the rare cannabinoids that people aren’t really even working with yet that can drive enormous well-being benefits to people going forward,” said Wrigley, in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.

Last week, Parallel announced its $1.9 billion deal with Ceres Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company co-founded by music entrepreneur Scooter Braun. The deal is expected to close this summer.

Parallel currently has about 50 dispensaries in the U.S. and is hoping to expand nationwide. The company expects it will have $447 million in revenue this year, and plans to use the funds from the deal to accelerate its existing product development and make it easier to grow through acquisitions.

Wrigley told CNBC that it is a good time for Parallel to go public, noting that “it’s a time for consolidation in the industry so having a public currency enables us to not only grow organically but also access in organic or M&A opportunities as well.”

Wrigley was the fourth generation of his family to run the namesake gum brand. In 2008, he took the company his great-grandfather founded in the late 1800s private in a leverage buyout to Mars for $23 billion.

Regarding cannabis regulation, Wrigley expects federal legalization will take longer than local and state legalization in the U.S. He said he is hopeful states will become more business-friendly towards cannabis companies.

“The smart thing to do is to allow a fundamentally business-friendly regulatory environment for these companies to play in. Otherwise, you’re going to have people going to the black market and doing things that none of us really want,” Wrigley said.