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Canopy Growth’s Bruce Linton Addresses Impact’s 43rd Annual Marketing Seminar

March 12, 2019

Few conversations in the drinks business these days end without discussion of the emergent cannabis industry—and Impact’s 43rd Annual Marketing Seminar, held last Thursday at Manhattan’s Pierre Hotel, was no exception.

Amid a program full of wine and spirits industry heavyweights, Bruce Linton, CEO of Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth, delivered a much anticipated address to the Seminar on the future of the cannabis market. Canopy has been among the most-discussed players in cannabis, especially since Constellation Brands took a $4 billion stake in the company last year.

With Canopy now present in 13 countries, Linton said the group is targeting growth on a global scale, as more governments see the upsides in monetizing, regulating, and educating on the category. “In two years,” he observed, “it will be easier to put up a map of the world and show which countries are not governing cannabis, rather than those that are.” Canada legalized after realizing it was ignoring untaxed cash flow of around C$8 billion ($6b), he noted.

Highlighting Constellation’s contribution, Linton said the massive investment from the drinks giant gave Canopy “a lot of financial clout. We’re spending that money on patents—digging a moat around our intellectual property—and creating brands and infrastructure.” Among the moves enabled by Constellation’s investment have been acquisitions like vaporizer company Storz & Bickel, a new plan to set up a hemp operation in New York state, and research and development toward the launch of new beverage products.

With ingestible forms of cannabis set to go legal in Canada late this year, Linton says Canopy is gearing up to launch “a wide range of products, including edibles, chewables, drinkables, and vape-ables.” He also touted Canopy’s new partnership with Martha Stewart—initially focused on CBD products—which grew out of its existing relationship with rapper Snoop Dogg.

Linton said the prospects for new product development for the future remain vast. “You should view the cannabis plant as a bioreactor, an ingredient machine,” he suggested. “Inside the plant are over 100 active ingredients, only two of which we get paid for—THC and CBD. Our job is to grow the plant, extract the ingredients, and put them back together in different ways for different outcomes.” In addition to edibles and drinkables, Canopy has teams of scientists researching the potential for cannabis products to address geriatric care, opioid dependency, insomnia, anxiety, Parkinson’s, veterinary care, and various other areas.—Daniel Marsteller

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