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Sean 'Diddy' Combs buying Rochester cannabis operation as part of $185M deal

Sean Combs photo
Photo provided

In a deal valued at $185 million, Sean “Diddy” Combs is set to buy cannabis retail and growing operations in Rochester’s Eastman Business Park.

The proposed acquisition, announced Friday, is part of a larger deal involving operations across New York, Illinois and Massachusetts. That transaction was made possible by Chicago-based Cresco Labs’ previously announced purchase of New York City-based Columbia Care, which operates retail and production facilities here. The companies need to shed certain assets to meet regulatory approval.

More than bringing celebrity to the Flower City, Combs would create the nation’s first minority-owned and -operated, multi-state enterprise involved in the entirety of the cannabis business from production to sale.

“My mission has always been to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in industries where we’ve traditionally been denied access,” Combs said in a statement, “and this acquisition provides the immediate scale and impact needed to create a more equitable future in cannabis.”

New York legalized the sale of marijuana in 2021, and the state since has been working through the regulatory process. State officials have said the first licenses allowing for recreational sales should go out by the end of the year. Priority is supposed to go to operators previously harmed by criminalization, but formerly incarcerated people say they still face barriers.

Friday’s announcement coincided with Combs’ birthday. He turned 53.

The billionaire businessman and hip-hop artist is chairman and CEO of Combs Enterprises, with a portfolio that spans the world of music, fashion, fragrance, beverage and media. His companies include Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, Combs Wine & Spirits, AQUAhydrate, and REVOLT MEDIA & TV/ REVOLT Films.

This would be Combs’ first investment in the fast-growing cannabis industry.

Cresco would become the nation’s largest, most profitable cannabis company in the larger deal valued at $2 billion.

That deal, and the Combs transaction, are expected to close in early 2023, assuming regulatory approval.

“Owning the entire process — from growing and manufacturing to marketing, retail, and wholesale distribution — is a historic win for the culture that will allow us to empower diverse leaders throughout the ecosystem and be bold advocates for inclusion,” Combs said.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.