TerraVida Holistic Centers, a chain of medical marijuana stores based in the Philadelphia suburbs, was acquired on Friday by Chicago-based Verano Holdings, in a transaction valued at about $135 million.

TerraVida operates three of Pennsylvania’s top-performing dispensaries in Abington, Malvern, and Sellersville. The cash and stock deal — formally “an acquisition of equity” — includes TerraVida’s headquarters in Jenkintown along with state-issued permits to operate three more retail storefronts in the Keystone State.

The chain’s founder and president Chris Visco, 49, will stay on in an executive position and will continue to oversee retail operations. Visco will assume managerial control over Verano’s Zen Leaf stores in Altoona, Harrisburg, and York.

Those shops will be rebranded under the TerraVida umbrella as the Chicago firm moves toward a nine-store Pennsylvania operation.

Verano Holdings operates growing facilities and retail locations in 14 states. Its stock, VRNO, went public last week on the Canadian Stock Exchange.

The deal has been in the works for two months, said Visco, who has been battling breast cancer during the negotiations.

As the COVID pandemic progressed, financial interest in marijuana grew, she said. “We were approached by six companies,” Visco added “I chose Verano because they believe in the same things I do.”

The infusion of cash will help TerraVida open a larger store in Northeast Philadelphia, she said. Visco’s first attempt to open a Philadelphia store in East Mount Airy failed in the face of political opposition.

The chain’s Abington store, currently in a former animal hospital, will be relocated north on Route 611 in a building that once housed a La-Z-Boy recliner franchise.

Visco said she is reserving 12,000 square feet of the building to expand should Pennsylvania legalize cannabis for recreational use. That prospect became more realistic this week after Dan Laughlin, a Republican state senator from Erie, proposed a legalization measure in Harrisburg.

New Jersey this week legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. The newly created industry is unlikely to begin sales for at least six months.

Visco said she’s not concerned about Garden State weed sales cannibalizing medical marijuana business on the Pennsylvania side of the river. She said Pennsylvania’s lack of taxes on the products sold in medical dispensaries meant its firms would be able to undersell those in the Garden State.

Visco said the merged TerraVida and Verano wants to acquire a Pennsylvania permit to grow cannabis on a large scale in the coming years. “We’re hopeful that we will become vertically integrated in the state at some point,” she said.

Also on Friday, Verano announced two other acquisitions: an Arizona weed retailer, the Emerald Dispensary in Phoenix, for $22.5 million; and The Herbal Care Center, a dispensary in Chicago, for $17.5 million.

“We are enormously excited for what the future holds in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Arizona,” said George Archos, cofounder and CEO of Verano. “Each are core markets for us and present robust, thoughtfully designed programs with great potential, for sound operators, patients, and consumers alike.”