Toronto, Ontario: On May 26, 2017, Chuck Rifici, Chairman and CEO of Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. strode onto the stage of the Lift Cannabis Business Conference to the tune of Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic. Hand in pocket and a grin beaming through his ginger hipster beard, Rifici positioned himself behind the podium and declared, “Legalisation is here!” The sneaker-clad businessman then clarified, “We are legalising by next Canada Day, and that’s amazing!”
Rifici’s Lift Cannabis Business Conference appearance came just weeks after Cannabis Wheaton debuted as the “world’s first marijuana streaming company.” The company previously traded as Knightswood Financial Corp., a boutique merchant bank. In April 2017, Rifici renamed the company to Cannabis Wheaton and changed its business model. The concept of streaming allows Cannabis Wheaton to fund licensed, or nearly licenced, marijuana producers by providing capital in exchange for a royalty-based partner agreement. Cannabis Wheaton will not produce marijuana, but plans to offer potential partners the funds and expertise needed to succeed in the new marketplace.
The concept of streaming may be new to the marijuana business, but Rifici is not. His interest in pot stems back to 2012, when Health Canada announced measures to restrict sales of medical marijuana to online and call centre sales only. Rifici understood this business model well: his first start-up company was a successful online Internet provider that he sold in 2003, age 21, for 1.1 million dollars. Rifici seized the opportunity to manipulate his Internet-business expertise into marijuana sales, co-founding Tweed Marijuana Inc., an online distributor, in 2013.
While thousands of disorganised and informal marijuana producers around the country scratched their heads over the legislation changes, Tweed carefully aligned its production and distribution with the new rules, and scooped up the very first Canadian license to legally sell and produce medical marijuana in 2014. Rifici’s personal wealth grew by $5 million overnight as the share price rose more than 25%, from $2 to $2.58, following the announced license. Meanwhile, the self-made millionaire volunteered his spare time as CFO of the Canadian Liberal Party. Rifici, now nicknamed the “Godfather of Weed,” claims there is no connection between his role as CFO and Tweed’s swift licensing by Health Canada.
Under the new reforms of 2012, Chuck Rifici’s company, Tweed Marijuana Inc. became Canada’s first licensed medical marijuana producer to sell online.
“It’s not going to be the Cannabis Culture anymore, it’s going to be The Culture, it’s going to be who we are as Canadians,” asserted Rifici in the opening minutes of his Lift Conference speech.
Dressed in jeans and a token sports jacket, Rifici grinned and gestured towards his audience as he continued, “We have a government that are taking a very safe approach going forward…but we are going to help the legal community make this law right and make it effective.”
Health Canada predicts marijuana users will increase ten-fold over the coming decade.
Cannabis Wheaton shares currently trade at $1.17, up from $0.03 at the time of its evolution.
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