Ontario-based licensed producer CannTrust fired its chief executive, Peter Aceto, “with cause” today amid an ongoing scandal involving unlicensed cannabis cultivation that has enveloped the marijuana industry in Canada for weeks.
The company also demanded, and received, the resignation of its long-time chairman, Eric Paul.
“The investigation into the company’s non-compliance with Health Canada regulations and ancillary matters uncovered new information that has resulted in a determination by the board to terminate with cause CannTrust CEO Peter Aceto,” CannTrust said in a statement.
Earlier this month, CannTrust’s greenhouse facility in Pelham, Ontario, received a “noncompliant” rating after a whistleblower alerted Canada’s cannabis regulator to five unlicensed cultivation rooms the company had been operating since late 2018.
CannTrust was also found to have shipped some of the unlicensed cannabis to Denmark and Australia, which could cause broader problems for Canada’s producers if countries end up curbing imports from Canada.
The company did not state what new information it uncovered, but the Globe and Mail reported that Aceto and Paul had been aware of the unlicensed cannabis cultivation as early as November, citing internal company communications.
Industry sources say the executive shakeup is long overdue.
“CannTrust is finally taking the steps of being accountable for its actions. Long overdue, but it’s happening,” Corey Herscu, CEO of RNMKR Agency in Toronto, told Marijuana Business Daily.
“It’s been a very tough few weeks for the Canadian cannabis industry as a whole, but we can finally move forward, positively, and strive to be better.”
The company’s stock tumbled over 50% since the controversy erupted, wiping out over 350 million Canadian dollars ($260 million) in shareholder value.
Dave Scholz, vice president at Montreal-based Leger and a reputation expert, said the CannTrust effect is being felt across the entire industry.
“It’s not so much as to how the issue affects CannTrust, but how this issue affects the industry as a whole. This is a fledgling industry with not a lot of general awareness by the public, so there is a lack of differentiation between companies,” he said.
“What the pubic sees is an issue with one company – the question that is asked, could that be the case with all companies? So all Cannabis companies should be ‘upping their game’ when it comes to establishing their reputation.”
Earlier this year, Leger conducted the largest study to date on the reputations of cannabis producers in Canada. There were few standouts from a reputation standpoint, with almost all of the cannabis companies grouped together.
Scholz said firing their CEO should be a sign to stakeholders that CannTrust is serious about cleaning up its mess.
“My only concern for CannTrust is that they have not built up a lot of reputational good will to date. No cannabis company has – they are too young,” he said.
“For this reason they will have to work extra hard to regain our trust through effective, transparent communications. If they don’t get it right, there are lots of companies to replace them.”
CannTrust formally responded to Health Canada’s noncompliant inspection report, and the agency is now determining the appropriate compliance and enforcement action.
Aceto joined CannTrust from Tangerine bank, a subsidiary of Scotiabank, last October in what was perceived as somewhat of a coup at the time.
While other cannabis companies were mostly sticking with their founding executive teams, CannTrust was hailed for bringing in an experienced Bay Street executive to steer the company’s rapid growth weeks ahead of federal legalization.
Now the company – until recently one of the largest in Canada – faces an uncertain future.
“Our first priority is to complete the remaining items of our investigation and bring the company’s operations into full regulatory compliance. Implementing the necessary changes is essential to the interests of our medical patients, customers, shareholders and employees,” interim CEO Robert Marcovitch said in the statement.
CannTrust shares trade as CTST on the New York Stock Exchange and as TRST on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
总部位于安大略的特许生产商佳能信托( CannTrust )今日“有理由”解雇其首席执行官彼得?
CannTrust 在一份声明中表示：“针对该公司不遵守加拿大卫生部法规和附属事项的调查发现了新的信息，董事会决定终止导致 CannTrust 首席执行官 Peter Acto 的信息。”
本月早些时候， CannTrust 位于安大略省佩勒姆( Pelham )的温室设施获得了“不合格”评级，此前一名举报者警告加拿大大麻监管机构，该公司自2018年底以来一直在运营的5个无证种植房。
该公司没有说明它发现的新信息，但《环球邮报》报道称，早在11月， Aceto 和 Paul 就已经意识到未经许可的大麻种植，并引用了公司内部的沟通。
“ CannTrust 终于采取了对其行动负责的步骤。逾期很久，但事情正在发生，”多伦多 RNMKRAgency 的首席执行官 Corey Herscu 告诉《马里华纳商业日报》。
“ CannTrust 效应”
蒙特利尔的 Leger 副总裁兼声誉专家 DaveScholz 说，整个行业都感受到了 CannTrust 的影响。
今年早些时候， Leger 对加拿大大麻生产商的声誉进行了迄今为止规模最大的研究。从声誉的角度来看，几乎所有的大麻公司都聚集在一起。
去年10月，宏碁从苏格兰丰业银行( Scotiabank )的子公司 Tangine Bank 加入了佳能信托，当时人们认为这在某种程度上是一场政变。
尽管其他大麻公司大多都在坚持其创始高管团队，但佳能信托公司( CannTrust )因引进一位经验丰富的 Bay Street 高管，在联邦法律认可前几周引领该公司快速增长而受到赞誉。
“我们的首要任务是完成剩余的调查项目，使公司的运营完全符合监管要求。实施必要的变革对我们的医疗患者、客户、股东和员工的利益至关重要，”临时首席执行官罗伯特•马科维奇( Robert Marcovich )在声明中表示。
CannTrust 的股票在纽约证券交易所交易为 CTST ，在多伦多证券交易所交易为 TRST 。