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Canopy’s U.S. CBD plan lays groundwork for American pot expansion

Tweed CEO Bruce Linton welcomes media to a new visitor centre at Canopy Growths Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario opens a new visitor centre on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.TO) plans to develop hemp-producing assets in multiple U.S. states on an “industrial park scale” that can easily pivot to marijuana if federal regulations change, according to founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton.

The company announced plans to invest up to US$150 million to process and produce hemp in New York after securing a license from the state’s government in January. Earlier this month, Linton told Yahoo Finance that Canopy could spend as much as $500 million on hemp production across two or three U.S. states.

The U.S. farm bill recently opened up the market for hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). The wellness-oriented compound is being infused into everything from coffee to bath bombs.

Linton said he expects New York will be a “strong market” for Canopy’s CBD offerings. He suggested the company’s planned hemp facilities could be “activated very easily” to incorporate cannabis with psychoactive THC down the road.

“That asset group, and the channel we sell though, will lend itself extremely well to cannabis if and when [it is federally legalized in the U.S.],” he told analysts on a Friday morning conference call following the release of third-quarter financial results.

“We view these investments as creating a lawful channel to . . .  corner store sale point of products that are disruptive to sports recovery through cosmetics, and certain medical fields. But the asset group has a lot more extension over time.”

Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and major U.S. exchanges are barred from investing in cannabis production in the U.S. while the drug is illegal at the federal level.

Last Friday, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden introduced a bill to federally decriminalize, regulate, and tax marijuana products called S.420. (Get it?) The bill is part of a legislative package that would “lay [the] foundation for responsible, comprehensive federal regulation of marijuana,” according to a statement from the senator

“Anything that would allow at a state level the activities that currently occur in the state not to be offside federally, and as a result enable parties like NYSE to see it such that our listing would be maintained, immediately mean that we are in,” Linton said. “It’s feeling much more likely that is sooner than later, but it is politics.”

Canopy reported $97.7 million of revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $21.7 million in the previous year’s fiscal third quarter. 

Loss from operations was $157.2 million, versus a loss of $26 million a year earlier. Net income attributable to shareholders, including net gains on the fair value of its assets, was $67.6 million or 22 cents per basic share, up from $1.6 million or one cent per basic share year-over-year.

Toronto-listed Canopy shares climbed 3.08 per cent to $63.17 at 11:17 a.m. ET on Friday.

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