Creso Pharma has revealed its new CEO and broadened its team with two top industry leaders, strengthening the company’s 2022 foothold in North America. 

This morning, Australian cannabis company, Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH)  announced the appointment of William Lay as managing director and CEO, bolstered its board with a pair of high-profile additions.

Formerly leading CPH’s strategy, origination & operations, Lay will be joined by cannabis and psychedelics entrepreneur Bruce Linton as a non-executive director, while Micheline MacKay will take up the role as of executive director.


Deep roots

Linton’s name is legendary in the cannabis space, having co-founded Canopy Growth and leading it to become the first cannabis producer listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – with a peak market capitalisation of US$15bn.

He also secured market support for 16 funding rounds, raising US$5 billion and executing 30 successful M&A initiatives.

As a director of leading psychedelic company Mind Medicine Inc, Linton oversaw growth from a ~C$75m market capitalisation to over C$1.5 billion from late 2020 to May 2021.


Putting the band back together

Lay is familiar with Linton’s capabilities; the two have enjoyed a longstanding relationship, with the new MD learning the trade for a period under Linton at Canopy Growth.

Previously an investment banker, Lay was quickly promoted to associate director M&A at Canopy, where he led transactions locally and internationally, while concurrently progressing corporate strategy initiatives across the company.

As CEO and MD, Lay will progress the company’s North American focused growth strategy and progress its proposed potential NASDAQ dual listing.

Lay brings CPH extensive expertise and will focus on assessing strategic, value accretive acquisitions in regions where it has an existing footprint, as well as for expansion purposes, with a particular focus on North America.

He will work closely with Linton, and will also oversee Creso’s global operations, including the company’s Swiss division and potential new market entries.

For Linton, his addition to the board marks the next step in his involvement with Creso, after he began formally advising the business last year “seeking to assist in the global adoption of these products”.

“I have known and thought highly of Creso’s products for several years now,” Linton said.

“This next step is intended to accelerate mergers and acquisitions that allow for this objective to take place.”

“While it is no secret that I generally prefer not to take board roles and actively turn them down on a regular basis, I am accepting this assignment due to the leadership of the company, and the scope of the opportunity,” Linton said.

Focus on talent, quality, growth and policy

Finally, the addition of Micheline MacKay is seen as pivotal as Creso continues to progress its growth trajectory as a leading drug and evolutionary therapies developer.

For the past three years MacKay has been the Corporate Manager of Creso Pharma’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Mernova Medicinal Inc.

Mackay brings leadership and experience with a strong focus on business improvements and product development from laboratory scale to commercial operations.

At Mernova she has been responsible for multiple functions including HR, quality assurance, and regulatory affairs and is the Health Canada-designated Responsible Person in Charge at Mernova.

Leveraging experience, MacKay has played a significant role in successfully growing Meronva from 14 to 42 full time employees.

She has implemented several policies, procedures, and protocols in adherence with the Cannabis Act and Regulations along with best industry standards.


Potential for Creso

Creso Chairman Dr James Ellingford said each appointee has excelled as leaders in the global cannabis sector and are importantly based in North America.

He further noted that each brings huge opportunities for Creso, which has been steadily growing its North American operations since it was first established in Australia in 2015.

“The company has built a robust pipeline of opportunities in Canada and the US, and we are confident that these new appointments will provide us with additional expertise to execute and unlock value for shareholders,” he said.

“Pleasingly, both Will and Bruce have an existing, symbiotic relationship from their time working together at Canopy Growth and bring extensive industry experience to our board,” Ellingford said.

“Micheline also has an extensive knowledge of our Mernova subsidiary and has been instrumental in scaling its operations to a solid revenue generator for the company.”


US legal cannabis push

Creso has been positioning to capitalise on a federal legalisation of cannabis in the United States with its increasing North American presence. Federal politicians who ran in 2020 promised reforms but the process has taken longer than anticipated.

The use and possession of cannabis remains illegal under federal law for any purpose in the US. However, policies regarding medicinal and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly among different states with many in conflict with federal law.

But the process of legalising cannabis in the US has been boosted with a new Republican-led bill to legalise and tax cannabis introduced in Congress as an alternative to the Democratic leaders’ marijuana legislation.

This article was developed in collaboration with Creso Pharma, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.  

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.