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Curaleaf wants to be the Starbucks of cannabis

Faced with strict federal regulations regarding marijuana, U.S.-based cannabis company Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (CURA.CN, LDVTF) listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange this week to expand its business. Curaleaf, one of the largest cannabis retailers in the U.S., owns 28 dispensaries, 12 cultivation and 9 processing sites in 12 U.S. states.

Boris Jordan, Curaleaf’s executive chairman, expects other U.S. cannabis companies to follow suit, though he’d prefer if it were easier for U.S. companies to raise funds in the states.

“You’re seeing more and more companies in the U.S. going to the Canadian market. And the irony is we shouldn’t have to be going to the Canadian market. We are U.S. companies. We should be able to raise money in our own market. The largest capital market in the world and because of roadblocks and federal regulation legislation we haven’t been able to do that to date,” he said.

Although Curaleaf is traded in Canada, all its operations are in the U.S. market.

“You have to separate us very distinctly … from the Canadian [weed] stocks. The Canadian market is… a market of 36 million people, and one might argue those stocks were overvalued and needed to correct and I think they’re getting to levels now that probably make sense for investment,” said Jordan.

Curaleaf sees more opportunity for growth in the states.  “U.S. companies like ours and others, we operate in a market of 320 million people and that market has much more substantial growth potential,” he said.

“Ironically, even though we operate in a federally illegal market, our market is actually growing at a much faster pace and is structured in a much more positive way than the Canadian market is,” said Jordan. Under federal law, the sale of marijuana is illegal despite the fact that many states permit the use of cannabis for medical or recreational use.

“At the moment we are required to grow cannabis in every state [we operate in] because we have to abide by federal restrictions and… There is no interstate commerce of cannabis and so in every state we have to almost be silo-ed where we both sell through retail, we manufacture our own products and we have to grow those products. And so today that’s the way the industry is structured,” he said.

As restrictions ease, Curaleaf hopes to become as prominent as Starbucks. If federal legislation regarding cannabis changes, Jordan expects that Curaleaf will have a dual listing on U.S. exchanges as well.

“Our strategy is … to be the Starbucks of cannabis. We want to open up retail distribution throughout the whole country under our brand and sell our branded products through that retail distribution all over the U.S.,” he said.

Sibile Marcellus is an on-air reporter covering the day’s top stories in business for Yahoo Finance’s three daily live shows. Follow her on Twitter @sibileTV 

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