Pot producer Green Thumb enters Virginia with Dharma Pharma deal

May 3 (Reuters) - Green Thumb Industries Inc said on Monday it had agreed to buy privately owned Dharma Pharmaceuticals in Virginia, expanding the second-largest U.S. pot producer’s footprint to 13 states.

The company will pay around $80 million in cash and stock for Dharma, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The move comes as Virginia became the first southern state in the United States to legalize cannabis for adults last month, adding to a rising tide of governmental support for marijuana.

Dharma was among the first operators to supply medical cannabis products in Virginia and is well-placed to supply the legal market when sales begin, Green Thumb said in a statement.

Seventeen U.S. states have greenlighted recreational marijuana so far, with New York and New Mexico joining the list over the past two months.

“Change is happening. We are seeing sweeping cannabis reform across the country in favor of expanded access,” Green Thumb Chief Executive Ben Kovler said in a statement.

Kovler said based on its population, Virginia is expected to generate over $1.5 billion in legal cannabis sales. (Reporting by Sahil Shaw in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)