CannTrust (TRST.T) sacks workers, calls it ‘commitment to regulatory compliance’

There’s an old damage control routine that goes, instead of admitting you have a problem, you focus on how you’ve fixed the problem you had, so the interested observer focuses on your fix and not your initial incompetence.

CannTrust is at that chapter in their Damage Control 101 textbook.

In a news release titled, “Canntrust AFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO REGULATORY COMPLIANCE AND RESTORING TRUST” [caps theirs]. CannTrust’s remaining executives made a big deal yesterday of how they’re really quite very committed to being squeaky clean, because you wouldn’t want people thinking you were running an illegal crime conspiracy out of your licensed weed facility or anything.

Both the special committee of Canntrust Holdings Inc.’s board and its new executive leadership team continue to make progress on bringing Canntrust’s operations and procedures into full regulatory compliance and ensuring the company’s future.

GOOD! I mean, geez, there’s a lot of investigation needed to get to the bottom of who okayed an illegal drug operation in a place so tightly licensed and watched as a Health Canada licensed grow facility. You’d want to be asking questions of all your employees to get to the bottom of that, right?

As part of these efforts, the company is reducing its work force.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

I’ll leave it to smarter people than me to explain how slashing your workforce is in any way related to making “progress on bringing CannTrust’s operations and procedures into full regulatory compliance,” but it admittedly sounds a little more impressive than, “We’re actually quite fucked here so we need to save money, stat.”

But then followed… honesty!

“We have made the extremely difficult decision to restructure our work force to reflect the current requirements of our business,” said Robert Marcovitch, Canntrust’s interim chief executive officer.

Now, this is refreshing. Clearly, ‘CantTrust’ won’t be selling weed any time soon, so customer service and harvesting folks aren’t going to be busy, so the company should obvious find ways not to pay for a stagnant workforce. It sucks for the employees for them to lose their jobs based on the illegal and incompetent actions of management, but hey.

“These changes also position the company to better serve our patients and customers with high-quality, innovative products in the future.”

Wait, what? How on earth does slashing 20% of your workforce mean you’re going to ‘better serve patients down the road?’ These things are polar opposite.

Not mentioned in the release, this far more important stuff, released by Bloomberg.

Senior operating staff working at CannTrust Holdings Inc.’s Pelham, Ont. facility late last year brought cannabis seeds from the black market into production rooms, leading to some illicitly-grown pot flowing into the legal market, according to internal company documents obtained by BNN Bloomberg and four sources directly familiar with the matter.

The documents suggest that, in an apparent effort to conceal the black market cannabis seeds from regulatory inspections and other staff members, some CannTrust employees changed the names of as many as 20 strains to those which the company was licensed to sell in the legal medical and recreational markets.

Does the company deny it? Well, they don’t embrace it but go, again, with the damage control option rather than fessing up.

CannTrust spokesperson Jane Shapiro told BNN Bloomberg in an emailed statement that “to the best of our knowledge, no product using seeds from unauthorized external sources was introduced into the market.”

To be clear, that’s not ‘we didn’t buy black market seeds’, that’s ‘the finished product grown from that black market seed didn’t get to market, maybe.

Back to Bloomberg:

“I can guarantee you they would harvest [plants that originated from black market seeds], trim them and send them out … Guaranteed, they went to the legal market. I can tell you 100 per cent they did,” one of the sources said. […] Under the Cannabis Act, the penalty for illegal distribution or sale of cannabis can range from fines for small amounts to imprisonment for a term of up to 14 years.

Let’s have the maximum, please.

— Chris Parry

FULL DISCLOSURE: Not my fucking client.

Disclaimer: ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and consult with a licensed investment professional before making an investment. This communication should not be used as a basis for making any investment.

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