Interview with Cannabis Trailblazer Bruce Linton from our NYC Summit last Month
Bruce Linton joined the 5th Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit in New York in September to share his experiences during a transitionary period in his career, moving towards new ventures and innovations in the cannabis sector and beyond after his tenure as Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Canopy Growth Corporation.
You are now advising many smaller companies in the cannabis space, what product or trend are you most excited about?
One of the companies I own 8-10 percent of is looking at psychedelics and what they can do therapeutically. We’re not aiming at how to do party favors, but under the same basis as cannabinoids were held ransom and hostage, so too were a lot of other things that may in fact help diminish addiction to opioids, may assist in dealing with PTSD and may be a therapeutic treatment for depression. So, this company has done a lot of stuff that we’ll know if the FDA likes in two or three or four years.
And then as you come a little closer, I think mammals with four legs are super interesting because if you think about it, humans have had a medical access methodology but animals have not. So, there aren’t vets who actually have a dosage or efficacy; or that know how to actually implement [cannabis and CBD] in an agri-platform. That’s a better dogfood and animal company; and we’ll put our money towards research, on top of a good revenue stream.
And then on the other hand, as states switch from a grey, kind of murky medical-only, to sort of medical, to medical and rec; really understanding the goal of the local regulators, how they are implementing and what are the best practices so others can borrow from that. That’s why I want to do an MSO, but that’s also why I’m doing Gage. And that’s the beginning of 2020.
So, you can start to see that I think there are layers of investability and you should have a portfolio that isn’t, “I’m going to pick five different growers,” that’s all the same. You should have a portfolio that puts the vertical stack of the use of the product together. So, I’m going to do a bit on animals, hallucinogens, brands, grow and retail. So, that’s the diversified portfolio I put together.
What about brands? How important is a national brand for U.S. companies right now?
It depends. Consumers don’t get too excited about branded white sugar and there’s internationally branded white sugar. But that’s not a differentiated good, you just buy it or get it on sale. So, I don’t know that brands for a generic product make sense but for some differentiated IP, or a differentiated originating story, a brand does matter. But what I’m seeing is that people are trying to put really nice brands on the same white sugar and say, “oh, look at my brand” and I think that’s essentially setting up marketing warfare; when unlimited amounts of spending can occur and no one ever wins. They should put all that marketing warfare spending into intellectual property creation and distinct brand creation.
What are some of the lessons learned operating in Canada or things we shouldn’t take from Canada as we work towards broader legalization in the U.S.?
I had the good luck that while I started in Canada, by the time was out, we were in 16 countries. One of the takeaways is that more regulation is better. While that sounds very Canadian, I was on TV today and they were asking about vaping. Because I would say in the absence of sufficient regulation there are a whole bunch of things that become suspect and then what the regulators or politicians think they are supposed to do is crackdown, which is totally the wrong thing. What they should do is regulate, regulate, regulate and then people will have access to education because the government will have regulated, they’ll monetize and then they’ll educate.
And so, what I see is uniform rules create ways that best results can happen. Canada probably did a very good job on the process of don’t lose any, make sure you don’t adulterate it and then they fell down on how they regulated the distribution. It is very slowly rolling out and the initial products were very limited. The next ones coming in January will be better. But I see places like Jamaica doing an equally good job and it’s because they took the best from a variety of areas including Canada and are implementing it.
We know you’re planning to announce that you are joining an MSO. Coming from Canopy, what are you looking for in an MSO?
It starts with, who are the entrepreneurs that created it? And if they’re driven by purpose, and I’m not saying they have to be advocates, but they have to have some reason they’re sticking around the next two, three, four, five years. Second, when I talk to them, they have to be willing to lock up their stock and not sell any for one year from the time I join because I don’t want them to think, how do I get rich quick? It’s, how do I use this to make the cost of capital go down for the company?
And then I have to see that they actually have an agenda where they are trying to invent something, trying to create a baseplate of science; because if it’s just that “we’re growing a bunch and we’re going to put it nice packages,” that’s not going to work for me. There are only three or four MSOs who are really trying to say, “how is this going to work 5 – 10 years from now?”
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