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NEW YORK, June 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
FinancialBuzz.com, a respected source in the financial news media located on Wall Street, today announces an exclusive interview with WeedMD Inc. (TSX-V: WMD) (OTC: WDDMF) Chief Financial Officer, Keith Merker.
Mr. Merker shares with us his professional experience, a brief overview of the company, why he is excited about where the future of the company is heading and his views on the recent news surrounding cannabis legalization in Canada. The interview provides unique insight into the Company's latest corporate developments and an update on current cannabis markets.
FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary
Legalization movements are currently succeeding in changing policies beyond the U.S. region. Canada has passed a nationwide legalization of recreational cannabis usage on June 19th, 2018, following in the footsteps of Uruguay to become just the second nation to do so. As for the U.S., the process of cannabis legalization for the majority of the West Coast states has already begun, while almost all states have medical use legalized to an extent. And while California is the largest market, Canada is projected to show strong sales as well; Deloitte's report projects the Canadian market will be worth at least USD 5 Billion in sales in 2018.
Recent legislative victories for the cannabis industry are expected to have a highly positive impact on the economy. Despite the growing popularity of the market, education on cannabis products remains minimal. The Mount Royal University announced that it is partnering with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to offer three, non-credit, online courses on the business of cannabis. According to CBC, Brad Mahon, Dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education at Mount Royal University, explained that, "The idea was, we have a lot of courses connected to business and professional education, so this seemed like really, a natural fit; There is already a demand for the courses… We expect people who are kind of tire kickers, people who are curious and want to learn a little bit more, and we also expect people who are serious about learning more about this new industry. In many ways, these are business courses."
Now Exclusive Q&A Interview with the Chief Financial Officer of WeedMD Inc. (TSX-V: WMD) (OTC: WDDMF), Keith Merker:
Q: Can you tell us about your experience and also provide our audience with a brief overview of WeedMD's operations?
As the Chief Financial Officer of WeedMD since 2014, I have more than 15 years of experience working as a finance professional with extensive focus on emerging public and private companies, accounting, raising capital, corporate development and M&A . I also hold a Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
WeedMD is a federally-licensed producer and distributor of medical cannabis and oils under Health Canada's federal ACMPR. The Company operates a 26,000 sq. ft. facility in Aylmer, Ontario, and a second cultivation site at its hybrid greenhouse facility in Strathroy, Ontario, representing 610,000 sq. ft. or 14-acres under glass.
With its focus on becoming the preferred supplier to the long-term care, assisted living and seniors' care market, WeedMD was the first LP to secure multiple supply contracts with over 30 long-term care and retirement communities, currently representing more than 3,000 beds.
Q: According to federal statistics, Canadians last year spent $4.63 billion on both recreational and medical cannabis use. Now with recreational cannabis set to legalize nationwide by October 17, 2018, what is your future outlook on the industry?
"We are extremely proud of Canada's contribution to advancing first medical cannabis and now recreational cannabis with our federal government passing the laws last week, which will legalize cannabis for adult-use consumption. Canada has achieved what no other G7, G20 or even any other country in the world (except Uruguay) has done. Canada is recognized as a leader on cannabis law reform, and the countdown to October 17th is on.
We view recreational cannabis as a monumental achievement for Canadians and the industry. That said, we have seen significant wholesale price compression in the U.S., and believe it is inevitable that we will see a similar move happen here in Canada but it will take some time.
Q: The company's facilities are located in Ontario, Canada, are there any plans to expand into other markets such as the U.S.?
"Not in regards to cultivation, however we are always on the lookout for opportunities in other areas that do not touch the plant. We have seen some of our peers expand their businesses into the U.S. receive a lot of push back from regulators. Despite cannabis being legal in a number of U.S. states, the federal government still considers it a controlled substance the same way it does cocaine and heroin.
We submitted our application to obtain our Dealer's License (in process) and recently entered into a number of strategic relationships with universities and therapeutic/pharmaceutical companies. We are extremely focused on developing and launching new treatment options for patients. There will be a lot of research that goes into these initiatives which will involve a lot of intellectual property advancement and development along the way which we would like to bring to markets around the world."
Q: The cannabis market has attracted many new entrepreneurs set out to create their own businesses. Considering Ontario has the most licensed medical marijuana producers, how does WeedMD's business differentiate among current competitors and new ones entering the market?
"As far as differentiation goes, we have considerable USP's - unique selling propositions. WeedMD is recognized nationally for its expertise is strain development geared at specific demographics such as seniors and women. We were also the first Licensed Producer to enter into the seniors' care market and to establish multiple contracts with assisted-living and long-term care residences. Additionally, we are proud to be mentoring many new Licensed Producers on cultivation start-up, even selling our highly-sought after genetics. In regards to new competition, our cultivation and regulatory teams are some of the best in the industry. WeedMD produces some of the best-in-class strains that have received significant recognition for, generating on average, more well-reviewed products than any other Licensed Producer. Looking at strains graded 4.5 stars or more on http://www.lift.com , WeedMD had nine of its strains reach this category.
Also, while all licensed producers must adhere to strict standards established by Health Canada, effectively limiting branding and innovation, we have set ourselves apart from our peers in terms of our customer service, our fair everyday pricing and exceptional monthly sales; our initiatives to improve patient experience and outcomes, and our medical outreach, education and training programs.
Our management team has consistently and successfully delivered on its corporate milestones, and has multiple value-generating licensing and business milestones in its near-term pipeline.
Q: In your recent news, WeedMD Inc. announced it secured its Health Canada Cultivation License to grow up to 220,000 sq. ft of medical cannabis, and bringing it up to 610,000 sq. ft in the near future. As medical cannabis becomes more and more prevalent in Canada and U.S., will the company continue to expand in terms of greenhouse space in the next 5-10 years?
"Absolutely, we anticipate retrofitting our entire existing 14-acre state-of-the-art greenhouse facility, as well as expanding further into the 98-acre property. We have over $45-million cash in the bank, which provides us with an even more extended runway to build out the remaining phases of our greenhouse expansion.
Regardless of how the medical cannabis market rolls out in the U.S., we anticipate going ahead with these plans simply based on Canadian medical consumers' demand for cannabis as a medicine. While there is lots of talk of oversupply and margin compression in the industry in the adult-use market, there is not enough talk about the interim supply shortage of dried flower and oil products extremely high in Cannabidiol (CBD), with little to no Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for medical patients. We have some of the best strains that contain quantities of high-CBD, low-THC and our production schedules incorporate significant amounts of these plants being grown."
Q: Going off the previous question, how much is the annual production rates expected to increase by in the same forecasted period?
"Phase 1 of our expansion has us growing plants in 5-acres or 220,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space, which combined with our existing indoor facility in Aylmer, Ontario, is expected to increase production capacity to over 20,000 kg per annum (up from 1,500 kg per annum, representing only Aylmer). Phase II expansion will have plants grown in 9-acres or 395,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space, capable of producing more than 33,000 kg per annum. If we execute our option to expand and acquire the entire 610,000 sq. ft facility, Phase III could represent more than 50,000 kg of annual production in aggregate."
About WeedMD Inc. - WeedMD Inc. is the publicly-traded parent company of WeedMD Rx Inc., a federally-licensed producer and distributor of medical cannabis and oils under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). The Company operates a 26,000 sq. ft. indoor facility in Aylmer, Ontario, and a second cultivation site at its greenhouse facility located in Strathroy, Ontario, representing 610,000 sq. ft. or 14 acres under glass. WeedMD has entered into supply agreements in addition to strategic relationships with established cannabis brands. WeedMD is focused on providing medical cannabis to the seniors' markets in Canada through its proprietary seniors care program. It is dedicated to educating healthcare practitioners and furthering public understanding of the role that medical cannabis plays - including as it pertains to regulatory requirements, indications and potential side effects.
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