Scandal Forces Canadian Company to Destroy $77 Million Worth of Weed

Getting rid of $65 million of inventory and $12 million worth of plants is CannTrust’s latest move to deal with its illegal cannabis growing fiasco.
October 15, 2019, 5:22pm
The CannTrust illegal grow op scandal is forcing the Canadian company to destroy $77 million worth of cannabis
Photo by the Canadian Press/Tijana Martin

Embattled cannabis producer CannTrust says it will destroy $77 million worth of weed to comply with federal regulators. The Canadian company is at the centre of an illegal grow op scandal that forced out its CEO, resulted in job cuts, and left a lot of people with questions about how the legal weed industry operates.

CannTrust first got in trouble with regulators for producing millions of dollars worth of cannabis at a southern Ontario greenhouse that wasn’t licensed. Health Canada froze more than half of CannTrust’s stock of weed and cancelled its licence to produce and sell cannabis in September after the company was busted for growing illegal weed in July. The cannabis assets that the company has to destroy—$12 million worth of pot plants and clippings and $65 million worth of inventory—were not authorized by CannTrust’s licence.


Since that crackdown, CannTrust has fired its CEO, Peter Aceto, and let everyone know about the regulatory investigations into its business. In September, it announced plans to lay off 20 percent of its workforce. The company has said that its finances may have to be recalculated, based on new developments. CannTrust had previously estimated that the impact of regulatory issues would cost $51 million.

The illicit growing scandal has wiped out hundreds of millions of dollars of the company’s value on stock markets.

On Monday, CannTrust said it wouldn’t challenge Health Canada’s suspension order, which stops it from producing and selling cannabis even though it can continue to cultivate and harvest weed. According to the company’s latest statement, it seeks “the full reinstatement of its licences.”

When asked about how, exactly, the company plans to destroy all that cannabis, CannTrust spokesperson Jane Shapiro told VICE in an email that: “The destruction of this material is both an essential and integral part of CannTrust executing its remediation plan, as well as addressing Health Canada's remediation expectations. The Company will have more to say about its remediation plan in the coming weeks.”

CannTrust has stated that some of its illicit product was exported to Australia and Denmark. BNN Bloomberg reported that, according to internal company documents, late last year senior operating staff brought black market cannabis seeds into production facilities in Pelham, Ontario. This would have allowed CannTrust to boost its production.

Based on current vacancies in the “careers” section of CannTrust’s website, the company is currently looking for a full-time senior director of quality and compliance as well as an alternate quality assurance professional.

Follow Anne Gaviola on Twitter.