Canopy Growth Corp., apparently the world's largest (legal) cannabis company, said Bruce Linton – founder, chairman and co-CEO – is stepping down.
Mark Zekulin will become the sole CEO of the company and will work with the board of directors to begin a search for a new leader to guide the company in its next phase of growth, "which will include both internal and external candidates."
In associated moves, Rade Kovacevic, a long-serving member of the team currently leading all Canadian operations and recreational strategy, will assume the role of president. And John Bell, who has been lead director on the board for five years, will become chairman. The announcement said Linton also will leave the board of directors.
Linton sounded conciliatory: “Creating Canopy Growth began with an abandoned [Hershey] chocolate factory and a vision,” he said. “The board decided today, and I agreed, my turn is over. Mark has been my partner since this company began and has played an integral role in Canopy’s success."
Canopy Growth has experienced rapid growth since being founded in 2013, establishing leading positions in Canada’s medical and recreational cannabis markets and building an emerging presence in a number of additional markets around the world. Even greater potential lies ahead, as cannabis was legalized across Canada last October and seems destined for the same in the U.S. The Government of Canada just published rules for edibles.
The company recently received a $5 billion (CAD) investment from Constellation Brands, a leading beverage alcohol company, which provides a significant benefit as Canopy continues to establish a first-mover advantage in the quickly evolving global cannabis market. If all warrants are exercised, Constellation will own 50% of Canopy Growth, which is publicly traded. Two Constellation executives sit on the Canadian company's board.
Food Processing recently covered Canopy Growth's disruption into the food industry in its July Cover Story, 5 Food Industry Disruptors to Watch