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Canopy Growth Corp. CEO Linton says his ambitions are global

LINTON ON TORONTO’S CITYNEWS

One could forgive Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp’s (Quote, Chart TSX:WEED, NYSE:CGC), for being a little effusive, seeing as his company just landed the biggest marijuana deal in corporate history.

But Constellation Brands’ $5 billion injection aside, with supply agreements locked up from coast to coast and Canada’s biggest pot prize, Ontario, now pivoting towards private retail, Linton claims Canopy’s path to cannabis glory —both domestically and globally— is now much clearer.

Canada’s pot stocks are once again flying high, as the October 17 start date for recreational cannabis inches ever closer. And while some companies are still climbing back to share prices achieved in late December/early January’s pot frenzy, others have already made up that ground plus more, chief among them being Canopy Growth: the Smiths Falls, Ontario-based company started the year at $39.90 per share and is today trading in the $54.00 range. In terms of market capitalization, Canopy is now worth $10.6 billion and counting, astonishing for a company whose EBITDA is still well in the negative.

But Linton has said the deal with Constellation, which will see the US-based alcohol giant grow its stake in Canopy from about ten per cent to 38 per cent, amounts to more than just a vote of confidence in his company, Linton says that it’s a springboard to world domination in the marijuana sector.

“Constellation has been working with us for about a year,” Linton told CityNews Toronto recently. “They went, ‘Wow, these guys are way ahead.’ What the [new deal] does is, is we’re going to be way, way ahead. And we’re going to spend that money to be around the globe.”

“It means that we can go from where we are now, which is the leader in Canada but we’re active in 11 other countries, to just deploy this cash and be number one in all those countries, which means that this Canadian thing —regulating marijuana— turns into this Canadian company dominating because of this cash,” Linton says.

Makers of alcohol products are showing more interest in the cannabis space, with Molson Coors Brewing Co. recently striking up a joint venture with Gatineau, Quebec’s Hydropothecary Corp., while Heineken NV is also pursuing a non-alcoholic drink infused with the active marijuana ingredient THC.

Cannabis sector analyst Russell Stanley with Echelon Wealth Partners has said he expects more M&A activity within the marijuana space as alcohol, pharmaceutical, tobacco and consumer packaged goods companies look to get in on the action.

“In light of the $5 billion investment to be made by Constellation Brands in Canopy Growth Corporation, we firmly expect M&A and strategic investment activity to heat up,” says Stanley. “This is by far the largest investment we have seen made in the cannabis space, and it confirms that this is a global industry opportunity, rather than simply a Canadian game.”

Linton says that Canada’s progress from first instituting medical marijuana to, 17 years later, legalizing recreational use will be copied around the world.

“We’ve gone from three or four countries five years ago regulating at a federal level [medical marijuana] to 29 who are doing it now. 29!” he says. “And they’re doing it very similarly to how Canada did it first. They’re going to look after the patient and then they’re going to roll out the party.”

As for Canopy’s readiness to hit the ground running on October 17, Linton says he’s all set. “We have about 67,000 kg of demand and we have the ability to supply that and more,” he says

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

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