Bruce Linton says he’s the “world’s biggest legal-weed dealer”.

Drop one very important word – “legal” – from the chief executive’s title and that meaning changes drastically.

A longtime technology entrepreneur, Linton made his first foray into the marijuana industry as part of a process known as “chain of custody” – to ensure nothing tainted a crop either before, during, or after it’s grown.

After founding Canopy Growth five years ago in Smiths Falls, Canada – a small town in eastern Ontario, Canada – Linton has overseen the company’s growth to 6 million square feet of production space, which helped it bring in $US78 million of revenue last year.

In May it became the first marijuana company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange and now has a market value of $US5.7 billion.

Here Linton speaks about how how marijuana companies are disrupting traditional pharmaceuticals, and what’s next for the world’s largest publicly traded marijuana company.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about the legal-marijuana industry?

Bruce Linton: If I had told you five years ago what I was going to create and how we’re going to do it, you would have thought for sure this person is insane or criminal. At that time there were only four countries at a federal level even trying to figure out how to manage this. Now there are 29. So the probability that you will have encountered some information about this topic – not just in the US, but if you’re in France, Germany, or England – is quite high.

Five years ago finding any investor was a challenge. Now we have just completed a $US600 million convertible [debt round], all institutionally placed with about 90% in Europe and the US – and I mean the big names.

If I were to talk to your aunt or uncle or parent about what I did three years ago, they would have been very glad you didn’t work for me. Now they’re asking, “Why don’t you work at the company? That’s the future.” That’s because it takes a little time to work through the layers. Currently, someone might say, “Well, I use a pharmaceutical product that’s been given to me by my doctor, so it must be safe.”

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Now the US opioid crisis has actually triggered people to question all pharmaceutical products – and I don’t think that gets enough perspective. What had been a daily routine for many people turned out to be way worse than ever contemplated. People are starting to say, “Is there anything else like that that I’m being prescribed? What else is out there? How should I look at it?”

Now the opioid crisis has actually triggered people to question all pharmaceutical products.

The people who you thought would be least likely to be supportive – your parents, or mine – in fact are patients of other pharmaceutical products and therefore are actually becoming way more sceptical of those and looking for better solutions. That has meant we get a lot more of those people who want to become investors.

Young investors have been snapping up the stock like crazy.What do you hear from them and how do you pitch the investment to them?

Linton: When I deal with the younger cohort, say 25-year-olds, the surprising part to me is they may say, “Is this just a flash or is this a real thing here?” So I have to really take them on a journey to show them how disruptive it is to pharma and alcohol, and why it isn’t currently medical marijuana even though it’s called that.

Until it goes through all the necessary protocol and programs, it’s just marijuana. You can call yourself a doctor, but until you go to school and achieve it, you’re not. A lot of people who have had a routine exposure to marijuana don’t see it as a potential medical disrupter that it is until you kind of push their buttons.

Eventually people start wondering, “Christ, I want to have a hand in that.” Since you can’t possibly short anybody who’s in the opioid business, because there’s no short left on anything like that, so they start to say, “Maybe I’ll buy the future.”