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Jun 20, 2018

'It's pretty uneven': Canopy CEO on who is ready for pot legalization

Canopy Growth CEO: Cannabis industry ready to shift its horizon


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Now that Canada has announced that marijuana will be legalized on Oct. 17, the key question becomes: ‘Who’s ready?’

The CEO of Canada’s largest pot producer told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday that the nearly-four-month turnaround will expose which provinces, and which companies in competing sectors, have done the most preparation.

“It’s pretty uneven,” Canopy Growth chief executive Bruce Linton said in regards to the readiness of Canada’s provinces. “I think if we started in about half an hour, New Brunswick, probably Ontario, Newfoundland, a lot of the east coast ones are good to go. In fact, I bet we could be [ready] two days from now in a lot of the Western ones.”

“But I think there’s a little pullback in a couple of the other ones, so that’s going to just be a timing thing.”

Finally having a legalization date will catch some pharmaceutical companies off guard, Linton said.

“When they talk about medical cannabis, do they talk about it displacing sleep aids? Are the people running Ambien-type products concerned that we’ll completely decimate that market?” Linton asked.

Canopy Growth CEO says makers of sleep aids, painkillers should be 'terrified'

With cannabis legalized and a date set for recreational marijuana sales, Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton says this is a critical moment for executives across a variety of sectors. He says the competitive landscape and consumer demand is about to change for beverage companies and pharmaceutical firms, in particular.

“I think they’re terrified, and they should be, because this is an ingredient that we, as humans, can respond to without the same level of health disruption and risk as many of the pharmaceuticals.”

Beer and liquor companies could also suffer from a lack of prep, he said.

“For the most part, if you’re the CEO of a beer company or a spirits company right now, it’s a terrible time, because in your shareholder meetings they’re saying: ‘What’s our cannabis strategy?’ And, for the most part, the big companies are saying: ‘Well, we have a group that’s making a strategy for a strategy.’”

As for his own company’s next steps toward legalization, Linton is already looking beyond Canada’s borders and hoping to catch European countries moving into the medical marijuana space.

“Canada’s exciting, but we’re missing a zero on the number of people we could address when we also do Europe,” he said.

“Canada is a very normal, mundane, well-regulated place, which is doing the best job,” he added. “So, when they [look to alter their pot laws], in a sense, they are going to copy what Canada has done first and best and so that does give you a big advantage.”