Bruce Linton Announces New Role as He Expands His Cannabis Portfolio

November 7, 2019

Bruce Linton, the cannabis pioneer who was fired by the board of Canopy Growth in July, has just been hired as the executive chairman of Vireo Health.

Linton revealed his new gig to Cheddar on Thursday from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

"I am delighted to be joining Vireo, one of the most exciting cannabis companies in the United States with an impressive medical and scientific team developing the next generation of cannabis products," Linton said in a statement.

He added that he chose Vireo over other MSOs (multi-state operators) because "you could trust them."

Vireo operates in both medical and recreational marijuana in 11 U.S. states, including Minnesota, New York, and Ohio. The company most recently reported 70 percent year-over-year revenue growth, though it is still a small player in the growing North American cannabis market. Vireo is traded publicly on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Linton's chairmanship will be in addition to several advisory roles he has taken with other cannabis producers since he was let go from Canopy. He said his goal with Vireo is to help it get its name out and execute "fire-sale" deals with other players in the space, from beverages to CBD. Asked if he would consider doing a deal with Canopy, the company he brought to prominence, Linton replied: "I'd want to wait a year because they might fire me again."

As part of his role as one of the most outspoken executives in the cannabis industry, Linton has repeatedly called on tougher regulation for vaping. "Regulators have to regulate," he said, especially when it comes to the manufacture of illegal vaping devices with "God knows what's inside" and vape juices "from who knows where." The federal government is poised to institute a ban on flavored nicotine vape products as early as this week ー which have contributed to the spike in teen vaping but are not believed to be the cause of the spike in respiratory illnesses and deaths. Researchers believe black market THC products are more likely to be causing those deaths.

Linton is adding to his portfolio at a time when the cannabis industry is maturing from a niche business, mostly operating in Canada. Recreational cannabis has been legalized in 11 states, and Linton said he expects more to come, and soon. "I'd be pretty shocked if, in the next 12 months, New York isn't a dual state" with legal recreational and medical marijuana, he said.

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