Canopy Growth’s CEO thinks that the company’s deal with Newfoundland and Labrador will give it a competitive edge in customer research.

The deal, which will see Canopy supply cannabis to the province once it is legalized in July, also includes plans for a $40 million production facility that will also house a retail location.

“We’re really going to focus on an educational platform, which is why it’s pretty helpful to have the place where we’re going to grow the product as part of the store where we’re going to sell it, because we can actually take people in and use it almost like an interpretive centre, if you will,” Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton told BNN in an interview on Friday.

Linton said understanding consumption habits is key to getting consumers to choose cannabis as their “first choice for Friday night.”

“What’s got to happen is as you exit prohibition you need to educate [yourself on] what people purchase, when they consume and make sure that the on-boarding process is really thoughtful, because then you’re going to have a transition from, say, alcohol to cannabis as a first choice for Friday night,” he said. 

The deal involved some up-front risk for long-term benefit, according to Linton.

“They wanted to accomplish a bunch of policy goals, because they didn’t want to just have cannabis, they want to have production here,” he said. “They want to have a combination of research with [Memorial] University and they want to make sure that we create the employment that we said we would. So, they structured a deal where we do all the up-front risk and then over time we get a better economic return than if we didn’t produce here to recover a big chunk of what we’ll invest.”

The deal with the province does not guarantee exclusivity for Canopy as a provider, something Linton said he’s not particularly interested in.

“In some geographies outside of Canada, if we were offered the chance to be the sole provider, we would actually turn them down, because ultimately … when you’re the sole provider, you have a challenge. People want to have choice and they dislike what they are presented, even if it is good product,” Linton said.

“I think most people tend to prefer choice and if, over time, you’re the best choice – I think the Tweed-branded products, the constant availability, the quality we pursue [will work in Canopy’s favour] – people will prefer us and I hope that results in about a 40 per cent market share.”