The executive in charge of Canopy Growth Corp.'s global beverage unit is leaving less than a year after he joined the company, a high-level departure that comes as the pot giant looks to ramp up sales of cannabis-infused drinks to the Canadian recreational market. 

Andrew Rapsey joined Canopy in January and took on the role of global head of beverages in August. He announced in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday he is leaving the company and plans to return to Alphabet Inc.'s Google in 2021. 

"As I gear up for 2021, I have decided to head back to Google Canada for some unfinished business with a marketing team I adore," Rapsey said in the post. 

Jennifer White, Canopy's director of corporate communications, said in an email that the company recruited former S. C. Johnson & Son Inc. executive Tara Rozalowsky last month to be vice-president of its beverage and edibles operations​.

"While we are saddened by Andrew Rapsey’s decision to move back over to Google, we are grateful for the time he spent with us growing our 2.0 product portfolio and look forward to what the future holds for us under Tara’s leadership," White said in a statement. 

Rapsey didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from BNN Bloomberg.

Earlier on Wednesday, Canopy announced the departure of 220 staff tied to the closure of five production facilities across Canada. 

Rapsey's departure comes amid a volatile time for the nascent cannabis drinks market in Canada. Pot-infused drinks and other edibles were first made available for sale earlier this year, but sales of beverage products have grown slowly. 

About $23 million in cannabis-infused drinks was sold in the first 11 months of the year in Canada, representing about 1.5 per cent of the total cannabis market in Canada, according to cannabis retail data provider HyFyre. 

Canopy also lost its leading market position to Truss Beverages Inc., the joint venture between Molson Coors and pot producer Hexo Corp. in November, HyFyre data shows. Truss has a 35 per cent share of the market despite selling its products after only three months, while Canopy is slightly behind with a 33 per cent share. 

The company stated it has shipped more than two million cans of cannabis-infused drinks since sales were allowed in Canada, with 70 per cent of consumers polled stating they're satisfied with the beverages' "desired effect and taste." Canopy is also looking to introduce its beverage lineup in the U.S. via a licensing agreement with Acreage Holdings Inc., which it has the option to purchase wholly once cannabis is federally permissible in the U.S. 

Constellation Brands Inc., Canopy's main backer with more than US$4 billion invested in the pot giant, has bet on the future of cannabis-infused drinks and other products, amid shifting consumer interest in alcoholic drinks.

Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the ongoing growth of the Canadian recreational cannabis industry. Read more here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest news delivered directly to your inbox every week.

Security Not Found

The stock symbol {{StockChart.Ric}} does not exist

See Full Stock Page »