A report aimed at getting to the bottom of how CannTrust Holdings Inc. grew thousands of kilograms of cannabis in unlicensed rooms should be delivered by the company's independent committee within the next month, the head of the beleaguered cannabis producer said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg. 

CannTrust chief executive officer Peter Aceto said the independent committee formed by the pot producer’s board of directors has hired a third-party firm to conduct a "root cause analysis" which will provide a "clear view" on the series of events that led Health Canada to issue a non-compliance order stemming from unlicensed production at the company’s facility in Pelham, Ont.

"Until that thoughtful work is done and completed, we’re not in a position where we can share that information," Aceto told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview.

"Generally, from the work that I've done, these types of independent reports can take upward of 30 days. But I am aware that there’s a high sense of urgency and the hope is that it's done sooner than that." 

During the brief interview, Aceto was asked several questions by BNN Bloomberg about CannTrust's regulatory infractions, including his reaction to analysts stating they lost faith in the company's management; whether he plans to resign; if he's concerned about facing possible criminal charges in Canada or the United States, and what his message was to shareholders who saw the value of the company plummet nearly 50 per cent in the five days following the initial disclosure it had run afoul of the federal regulator.  

Each question was met with a similar answer: that Aceto and his team are focused on getting back into compliance with the regulator and "driving the business forward." 

"Where we are today, that's very much where management needs to be focused," Aceto said. 

Aceto was, however, contrite about his recent social media activity. On Friday, Aceto made his personal Instagram account private after BNN Bloomberg inquired about a post he made replying to a critic who admonished the CEO for not being transparent with investors. 

"21 years a trusted banker of the people & 9 years the CEO. Then 9 months later a thief/fraud? Ah, doesn’t make sense. Let the dust settle,” Aceto, who previously led Tangerine, replied at the time. 

Aceto took responsibility for the comment and said he doesn't plan any further social media activity. 

"This has been a challenging week for all stakeholders and it's been a very challenging week for me," he said. 

"But look, I'm human. As I said, the focus is on getting this business back in compliance, getting in the right place with Health Canada so we can continue to drive this business forward. That's what a CEO is supposed to do and that's what I'm focused on."

More immediately, CannTrust's next moves are to deliver a response to Health Canada's audit by July 18 and source medical-grade cannabis for the company's 72,000 patients, Aceto said. 

"It’s very early days of where we are, but that's where we're focused today," he said.

Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new — and controversial — Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day.

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