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EXCLUSIVE: Why Canopy Growth's CEO Says US Cannabis Industry Can Reach 'Same Size As The Beer Industry'

Canopy Growth Corp NASDAQ:CGC and Wana Brands are positioning themselves to be U.S. market leaders right out of the gate when cannabis is federally legalized, the cannabis companies' leadership said Thursday at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Miami Beach

Canopy's U.S. Presence: Wana Brands is a Colorado-based U.S. cannabis company that is the leading edibles company in North America. It was recently conditionally aquired by Canopy Growth.

Canopy is a leading Canadian legal producer, but CEO David Klein said Thursday the company has already established itself as a market leader in the U.S.

Related Link: EXCLUSIVE: Aurora Cannabis CEO 'Absolutely Confident' Company Will Be EBITDA-Positive By Year's End

"We have the fully paid up right to buy Wana upon permissibility in the U.S., what we call a triggering event. We have the same rights with [Acreage Holdings Inc (OTC: ACRHF)] and we have an ownership stake in [Terrascend Corp (OTC: TRSSF)]. So we already have a presence in the U.S. that continues to grow and build on itself, hopefully working with the various components of Canopy's business in the U.S.," Klein said.

Wana already operates in 14 different U.S. states and nine markets in Canada, and the company just launched in Puerto Rico as well.

Cannabis Collaboration Vs. Competition: Wana CEO and co-founder Nancy Whiteman discussed Wana's relationships with U.S. multistate operators that have their own product brands.

"On the retail side, I think most MSOs understand that their customers really want choice and they want access to the best products. So I would say that we have a good working relationship with most of the MSOs at this point," she said.

Klein said he believes it would be beneficial for the cannabis industry to collaborate more to jump-start the market as a whole.

"We have an opportunity to have an industry that's the same size as the beer industry in the U.S., and just think about the number of beer brands out there and beer retailers and beer on-premise organizations. I just think there's a lot more we can do if we focus on collaborations as opposed to just out-competing each other," he said.

Statista estimates the U.S. beer industry is worth about $121 billion in 2022.

Federal Legalization: Unfortunately, the Joe Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress hasn't made much meaningful progress on federal cannabis reform in the U.S.

"With the U.S. platform that we have inclusive of Wana and Acreage and some of our other investments in the U.S., those businesses continue to grow and innovate and compete in this marketplace prior to permissibility," Klein said.

He said both Wana and Acreage have appealing business models and are generating impressive growth, but investors don't see those numbers reflected on Canopy's financial statements.

"Upon federal permissibility, we can then consolidate everything, and so our business gets easier to explain to people," he said.

Learn more about this and other upcoming Benzinga Cannabis events at this link.

Yeji Jesse Lee, left, an Insider reporter, with Wana Brands CEO Nancy Whiteman and Canopy Growth CEO David Klein at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference on Thursday. Photo by Dez Smith

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