Bruce Linton: Canopy to Expand Skincare Products, Focus More on U.S. Hemp and CBD

May 23, 2019

By Chloe Aiello

Canopy CEO Bruce Linton sees big opportunity in hemp and CBD ー and his Canadian pot giant has acquired a $54 million skincare company to prove it.

Canopy Growth agreed to acquire British skincare company This Works for $54 million in cash on Wednesday, granting it access to a customer base and distribution network for consumer packaged goods that spans 35 countries. Following the acquisition, CEO Bruce Linton said Canopy will likely add a new, CBD-infused line of skincare products to the brand.

"This Works has a platform where they are in 35 countries, they have products people trust and think are terrific. What we want to do is take that, expand where they are and add a whole new product set," Linton said.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid derived from hemp or cannabis that is purported to be beneficial for everything from reducing inflammation to helping relieve anxiety. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act, clearing the way for many companies to jump into what is shaping up to be the latest, greatest beauty and wellness trend. The market for CBD and hemp is expected to reach $22 billion by 2023, according to a report from Brightfield Group.

Despite the optimism, the Food and Drug Administration has only officially approved CBD for use in Epidiolex, a prescription drug from GW Pharmaceuticals ($GWPH). It has also prohibited using CBD in food products, as well as making unsubstantiated health claims about it. Of course that hasn't stopped many companies from getting in on the green rush ー and CBD can now be found in everything from oils to skincare products.

Did Canopy "always" intend to enter the skincare space? Perhaps not, Linton said, but the Canadian pot giant did see it as part of a broader opportunity in hemp.

"Always is a really kind of long time frame. I would say we always wanted to take the ingredients in the plant and turn them into as much value as we could," Linton said.

Canopy's acquisition of This Works is far from its first foray into hemp, specifically U.S. hemp. It acquired Pennsylvania-based AgriNextUSA for an undisclosed amount at the close of 2018 and has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars toward hemp production and processing facilities in New York and several other U.S. states ー four or five more, Linton told Cheddar. He said he will reveal more about what that might look like during his keynote speech at industry conference Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in New York next week.

Canopy on Thursday also filed its management circular, urging its shareholders to vote in favor of a proposed $3.4 billion acquisition of Acreage Holdings, the U.S.-focused medical cannabis company that boasts figures like former House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts governor and current Republican presidential contender Bill Weld on its board.

Canopy's unprecedented acquisition of Acreage, contingent on when cannabis becomes federally "permissible" in the United States, hasn't gone without its share of opposition. Acreage minority shareholder Marcato came out against the transaction earlier this month, saying it undervalued Acreage. But Matt Hawkins, founder of Cresco Capital Partners, one of Acreage's earliest shareholders, told Bloomberg "the positives far outweigh the negatives."

Linton said he was confident shareholders would ultimately approve the transaction.

"Here's the deal, we are going to give you, the shareholder $2.50 cash today, and then we are going to give [Acreage] access to everything we know and have so they can dominate in a really tough business," Linton explained. "Shareholders usually say 'yes' to things that will make them money."