Cresco Labs Begins Trading in Canada, but CEO Says U.S. Cannabis Market Is Still Its Focus

December 3, 2018

By Conor White

American cannabis company Cresco Labs begins listing its shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Monday, but that doesn't mean the company is shifting its focus to the north. Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell told Cheddar that his goal remains dominating the U.S. market.

With a pot supply shortage in Canada, some companies might see an opportunity to take advantage, but not Cresco Labs.

"Our goal is to be the national consumer packaged goods company of cannabis, and so until that's reached, I think we'll focus on the U.S.," Bachtell said. Going public in Canada, however, was the company's best option due to federal cannabis laws in the U.S., he explained.

The CSE debut was not an IPO. Instead, the company has gone the route of an RTO, or reverse takeover, using a gold exploration company unrelated to the cannabis industry as its vehicle to go public.

"As opposed to going through the full IPO process, which can be longer and more expensive, it's an opportunity to utilize a company that's already publicly listed to reverse into, and become publicly traded in a more expedited timeline," Bachtell explained.

Since its launch in 2016, Cresco Labs has grown into one of the largest vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. and now employs 350 full-time workers. Roughly 300 of those have been hired in the last year.

The company recently closed a $100 million Series D round of funding, believed to be the second largest ever by an American cannabis company. Not bad for a group of people who previously had no experience in the industry.

"We're regulation guys," Bachtell said. "Our background is from banking."

While that might seem like a curious fit, the CEO explained why it's a good match.

"We're big on the Generation 2 and Generation 3 of cannabis," he said, "which is highly regulated, compliance-focused, and to a certain extent requires limited licenses, a controlled market."