Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO
Canopy Growth Corp (formerly Tweed Marijuana Inc.)
Interview conducted by:
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – December 31,
Mr. Linton, the first thing you see on your
website is Canopy Growth advances the world’s perception of cannabis by
focusing on research, product development and innovative production
capabilities – all presented through brands people trust. Is this what sets
Canopy Growth apart in such a growing industry?
Yes, I would say that science and the potential of the plant in its various
ingredients, turns into things that people choose over other options because
they trust them. They need to buy them based on an outcome and name, so we
have done and continue to do the job of folks focusing on science first and
then wrapping it in great brands.
Canopy Growth was formerly Tweed Marijuana Inc.
Why the name change and what is the vision today?
When I started Tweed, it was a medical-only single-side business and single
country business. Over the course of twenty plus acquisitions, it made more
sense to structure it to show that sort of program where you have an entity
in which the equity is purchased, Canopy. In addition, an entity in which
people select products such as Tweed, Spectrum or some of our other brands
so that there is brand clarity. However, communicate with investors without
necessarily the same format of name and structure as a person buys a
You are founder of Canopy Growth and Co-founder
of Tweed Marijuana. How did this come about? What inspired you?
Canopy has been forward-looking from a judicial perspective and how to
manage cannabis, in that it started in 2001 with the court decision that
federally it would not be permissible to withhold cannabis from people, as
there were medical benefits. I observed in 2012, that because of the number
of people on the prior system it was starting to break, and then there were
many in the
system, which was a much more industrial platform. Therefore, that
governance model was much more about chain of custody and not losing
cannabis, than it was about what you produced and how you sold it. This made
me think that that as a tech person, I should start one of those because
chain of custody is actually a concept that I had understood for a long
What is your role day-to-day at Canopy Growth as
it Chairman and Co-CEO?
I am principally aware facing in that I deal with capital markets, media and
communications, corporate governance and international activities, which are
really our emerging markets. Our President and Co-CEO, Mark Zekulin is more
focused on the structuring and operations of the business so that what we
talk about, we deliver.
Innovation is important to you with Canopy
Health Innovations being one of your subsidiaries. Would you tell us about
some of your accomplishments there and what we can look for in the future?
We have thirty-one divisions. It sounds like a great many of them, but each
site has to be licensed. We have about eight operating perspectives, and
what I mean by that is we focus on for example animal health, human health
and we focus on medical education and how do we bring physicians along. We
look at scientific formulations and extractions as a key aspect group. So as
you go through all these, I think what we have done a very good job of doing
is setting the interworking between the various market-facing elements and
the various technical creation aspects. The outcome is that we continue to
make new solutions that are defined by the problems of the prior solution,
or what the market is screaming for. We have been the best at listening to
the market, putting it through a science filter and turning it into a
Do you have your own growers or your own
production facilities? Where does the product production start?
We do everything from seed to sales. We have a little over 6 million square
feet of greenhouses in indoor buildings around the world. We have plants in
several countries on several continents, so from Europe to Australia, and
Canada as the first one. We do have respect for the process, essentially to
make sure it is what we want, convert it to what you want to buy and do that
on a continual basis.
On November 29th you announced a
strategic extract supply agreement with MediPharm Labs. Would you tell us
about that and what it means to Canopy Health?
I think it is a small portion of what we are acquiring or implementing, but
it was from a unique offering in that MediPharm Labs is a company that has
shifted their business model purely to the processing of plants rather than
growing or selling the resulted product. I think that is a good thing for
the sector and a very novel approach. Therefore, we are happy to work with
On December 6th you announced the
acquisition of Storz & Bickel, designers and manufacturers of medically
approved vaporizers. Why was this an important acquisition for you and how
did it come about?
Storz & Bickel have created over the last 18 to 20 years, the only medically
certified device for consuming cannabis and that certification is in
Germany, Israel, and Canada, not exactly low-water mark certification
jurisdictions. They have numerous patents filed that have been issues or are
looking to be issued that are quite competently executed, so it allows us a
platform to accelerate what we already going to do in the medical space in
terms of inhalation devices. It is a profitable enterprise, so it has a
nicely tuned business that comes with competent human capital that want to
build more and be bigger, so that works out well for us.
What is your geographic reach today?
Throughout twelve countries ranging from Canada, Germany, Poland, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Spain, Australia, South Africa, and
We have a great deal of diversity.
Would you tell us about your management model?
Are you hands-on with your subsidiaries or do they have their own management
teams? How does your management strategy give you a competitive edge?
We are still a startup. When you are a startup, you interact and get
involved almost quarterly. We are at the stage now where there are certain
areas that are stabilizing the direction of cannabis, and certain areas
which are being tweaked almost on a weekly basis such as what medical
indications make the most sense to pursue or how to expand into certain
geographies. It is a very iterative model, where we intentionally challenge
because there is no way to know that we are doing the right thing, as there
is nobody to copy from. Therefore, you just have to figure it out. It is
active management, but what we have attracted a couple thousand people and
almost everyone is extremely motivated because when in your life do you get
to participate in ending prohibition.
How do you reach out? Are your products moved
into the market place through distributors and partnerships?
Principally they are distributed direct to consumer, medical science, and
through provincially controlled sales points on the recreational side.
Internationally, it is through places like Germany through pharmacies. We
directly export to the countries, we do not use intermediaries.
What is your strategy for continued growth? Will
it come through product development, acquisitions, distribution agreements
or a mix?
It is a bit of a mix and it is also about regulatory rules. The US is
contemplating how to migrate a management system for hemp. There are many
regulations that are continually evolving so our opportunity is really
driven by what becomes legal.
Do you have the funds in place for continued
growth or will you be reaching out to investors?
We have about $4.5 billion US in the bank.
Is attending industry and investor conferences a
major part of your role at Canopy Growth?
They are too numerous to attend, so we selectively attend them. However, we
principally attend events which are more consumer-driven and some which are
financial institutions, but very few for our sector.
In closing, address our readers in the
investment, healthcare and cannabis communities. Why is Canopy Growth an
important company to follow?
We have been the definitive leader for five years through several iterations
of public policy and globalization. We are not a leader because of one
single thing; it is the structure of our model and the resulting outputs of
better product. Therefore, I suspect we foreshadow what is happening in
every geography that we operate.