Irwin Simon, Aphria’s CEO, told CNBC on Wednesday that he hopes marijuana will be fully legalized in the US in the next two to three years. However, the pot executive expressed confidence that the company can grow its revenues regardless of action from Washington.
Simon made the remarks in an interview on “Closing Bell” with Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy. In December, Canadian companies announced plans to close an all-stock deal that would spawn the world’s largest cannabis producer by sales.
“A lot of the unknown is known about what is going to happen in the US, but we will have the record, we will have the knowledge, we will have the brands, we will have the technology to make a huge impact once legalization is done, “said Simon. “I say full legalization in the next two to three years.”
Simon, who will lead the combined company upon conclusion of the deal, added that he “firmly believes that legalization in Germany, Portugal and some other countries can take place before the US”.
Pot stocks have rebounded in hopes of national legalization in the US, which would have a significant impact on companies in the industry. For example, the Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF is up over 120% since November 9, the first day of trading after most of the media scheduled the presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden.
Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, campaigned for an end to the federal marijuana ban. Schumer said in a statement alongside Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey that passing such laws would be a priority this year.
A large number of US states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. On Monday, New Jersey was the last state to allow a pot for recreational use when Governor Phil Murphy signed a package of laws. However, current federal law prevents cannabis from being imported into the country and also restricts the relationship of industry players with financial institutions.
Simon expressed his confidence in Aphria’s growth prospects even in the current landscape without federal legalization in America. Recreational area is allowed across Canada, he noted, and in the latest quarterly results, Aphria’s income from adult cannabis was up 149% over the same period last year.
Once the combination of Aphria and Tilray is complete, the combined company will have a “strong” medical business in Europe, Simon said. Earlier this month, Tilray signed a major deal with Grow Pharma to import and distribute its medical cannabis products in the UK
In the US, Simon promoted the acquisition of SweetWater Brewing Company, based in Atlanta, which was completed in late November. The company will also be owned by Tilray through Manitoba Harvest upon completion of the merger, Simon said. Manitoba Harvest sells hemp-based foods such as cereal and milk. “We will look at other acquisitions in the US,” added Simon.
Aphria’s shares, listed on Nasdaq, are up nearly 175% in 2021. Tilray stock is up nearly 211%.