Cannabis is a “young” industry that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is taking time to assess for potential investment opportunities, the outgoing president and CEO of the $191.1-billion fund manager says.

“We have to be mindful before we take these substantial sums of money that we have, and really push them into an industry [that’s] evolving,” Ron Mock told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman on Thursday.

“We don’t have to be first ones in [cannabis]. We definitely can take our time and study it.”

Mock’s comments come as one of the country’s largest licensed producers faces a flurry of negative headlines while running afoul of the federal regulator. Shares in Vaughan, Ont.-based CannTrust Holdings Inc. (TRST.TO) have slumped to record lows this week, after the pot producer was found to be non-compliant with certain Health Canada regulations.

Mock added that while Teachers’ may have “a little bit of it in our portfolio” from time to time, the fund is proceeding slowly on investing in marijuana and views the medical space as the sector’s strongest opportunity. 

“These can be tricky areas that we have to think through and look at carefully,” Mock said.

“It’s still a young industry, things are evolving and growing. And things do happen along the way and we just have to deal with that as it goes.”

Mock is set to retire at the end of the year after nearly two decades at the Toronto-based fund, serving as CEO since 2014. He will be replaced by Jo Taylor, who is currently executive managing director of global development at Teachers’.