The CSE Welcomes North America’s Cannabis Sector

(iStock/Warchi)

It’s 4:20 pm on a crisp October afternoon in downtown Toronto, and a crew of cannabis professionals are getting down to serious business at the Canadian Security Exchange’s ‘Cannabis Growing in Capital Markets’ speaker series.

Investors, lawyers, accountants, and entrepreneurs mingled together in a mission to help see the cannabis sector grow. The complimentary wine and spirits helped lighten the mood, a much-needed respite from the tense moment the Canadian cannabis industry faces.

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Less than a week before the event, the Toronto Stock Exchange, a direct competitor of the CSE, announced it would be reviewing cannabis companies listed on its exchanges that also have assets or activities in the United States, indicating that these companies may face possible de-listing. That stands in stark contrast to the route the CSE is taking, allowing those companies on their exchange if they make certain disclosure statements about their US operations.

Against this backdrop, Richard Carleton, the CEO of the Canadian Securities Exchange, welcomed the crowd by giving a summary of the positions being taken on the matter, euphemistically referring to the Toronto Stock Exchange as “the people across the street from us.”

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The Canadian Securities Administrators, which oversee the country’s capital markets, had recently released a notice indicating that companies with US operations must make certain disclosures. That, Carleton told the crowd, was in lockstep with the position that the CSE has taken, and they are fully supportive of the CSE’s directive.

In her talk, Kimberley McManus gave the 411 on intellectual property in the cannabis sector. Patents are becoming increasingly important in the sector, McManus said, showing the audience drawings contained in a patent filed for a bong.

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But perhaps the most interesting part of the session was a fireside chat with the heads of five CSE-listed companies, which brought questions from the audience. “What do you think of Ontario’s plan to make cannabis distribution controlled by the LCBO?” asked one attendee. Some said it didn’t seem ideal, while CannTrust President Brad Rogers told the crowd “we’ll work with it.”

One awkward moment came when an audience member asked the five heads point-blank whether any of their companies had women on the board. Silence.

But besides that little hiccup, the event appeared to be a success. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak with Rob Cook, the Senior VP of Market Development of the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Cook told me that this isn’t the CSE’s first dance with cannabis companies, pointing out that many are already listed on his exchange.

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When I asked about the ultimate goal of the days event, Cook said, “Today, we held a seminar aimed at helping educate the market and we featured five of our listed companies, and had a number of speakers with expertise in various aspects of cannabis companies trading in the capital markets. The goal was to help people become more comfortable with the cannabis sector, to learn more about it, because there’s a lot of things pertaining to it that are unique to the sector and do effect the investment characteristics of the companies.”

With more cannabis-related speaker events slated in the future, it seems the CSE is not turning its back on cannabis companies. If these events show anything, it’s that investors are hungry, and the CSE is positioning itself to be the exchange that welcomes cannabis-based companies from across North America.