BEFORE heading off to Greece to persuade its politicians to commit to the cannabis industry, former Canopy Growth Chief Executive Bruce Linton elaborated on his mission.
“If Greece legalised cannabis it would more than double its FDI (foreign direct investment). During my time with Canopy we attracted more investment than the whole of Greece,” he told an eager London audience.
“It would be insane for the Greek Government not to do this; it would stop having to pay all those EU (European Union) loans, it would help solve its massive unemployment and it would boost tourism – which already accounts for 40% of its economy.”
During his time with Canopy Growth, the company he co-founded, Mr Linton attracted some $5bn of investment, which ‘is something the Greeks would love to have’, he said.
He continued: “Let’s have a party, and let’s see the Greek politicians make having a party an exclusive economic advantage. Who moves first, wins,” said Mr Linton at the Global Cannabis Institute conference in London, last November.
Mr Linton’s departure from Canopy wasn’t of his own volition and stemmed from the growing impatience of its investors; US drinks giant Constellation Brands.
Since leaving, he says that he had more than 200 offers and, after undertaking due diligence, he is actively investing and working with a number of new start-ups and emerging brands.
These include an appliance sharing website; ruckify, gift concierge; giftagram, cannabis brand; Slang Worldwide and medical cannabis firm; Viveo.
Despite the cannabis capital markets ‘drying-up’ with Canadian cannabis companies seeing their values plummet, he says it is still the ‘hottest topic on the globe’.
He says that the generalist, vertically-integrated model which was a hallmark of the initial Canadian firms – producer, manufacturer and retailer – will modify as the industry specialises.
While low-cost production will benefit emerging economies such as Colombia and China, he believes there will always be a place in the industry for ‘quality cultivators, supplying into the medical market’.
The Canadian Government has successfully managed to make ‘cannabis not fun’, as the existing law mandate almost total uniformity in products, he says.
However, he believes this will change and become ‘more interesting’ as edibles and other new products develop.
Mr Linton says there are still many barriers to overcome and recounts how even as a listed company he was not allowed to be pictured next to the opening and closing bells at the New York Stock Exchange.
He says he will continue his frequent TV appearances in order ‘to sell things’ and believes there is still so much to do in the cannabis space.
And reflecting on many future industry challenges, he mused ‘How can we ensure we deliver the correct CBD dosage requirement to pigs, so they don’t stress in a hot environment?’.