SIT UPS AND START UPS
The year is 2012 and 2 friends; Jay Wilgar and Travis Kanellos were working out at the local gym while discussing new regulations the Canadian government is expecting to pass: regulations which would legalize doctors to fully prescribe medical cannabis, and create a commercial industry responsible for its production and distribution. The casual discussion quickly turned into a passionate debate, which in turn became a real idea; becoming a federally licensed producer and part of the movement to change the face of cannabis on a global level. Recognizing the need to move quickly, a team was formed to immediately turn this idea into reality. John Morgan began working with contractors on the development of our first facility and Peter Hwang was brought in to lead the commercialization of the company. Initial private equity investors came on board, and in the summer of 2013, Hemisphere Pharmaceuticals Inc. (HPI) was established. Construction started on its first facility in Brantford Ontario, now known as the Centuries Ahead StudioTM.
INVESTING IN CULTIVATION
Construction continued through early 2015 when Health Canada went dark and all license applications were placed on hold. With Justin Trudeau’s election as Prime Minister, Health Canada re-engaged with applicants in early 2016. The objective to grow the highest quality cannabis possible quickly meant the recruitment of quality control talent, plant biologists & heritage growers who would bring science and know-how to the cultivation practice. In December 2016, the company was awarded its cultivation license.
A LITTLE CANADIAN BAND CALLED THE TRAGICALLY HIP
Shortly thereafter, The Tragically Hip signed on as investors and creative partners. In January 2017, a team of executives and advisors joined to raise capital and commercialize the business. Through a reverse-takeover with Newstrike Resources Limited, HPI entered the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol HIP, and a new chapter was about to begin.
21 HOCKEY RINKS
Knowing there was a necessity to scale up production capacity, Up Cannabis started the aggressive pursuit of new growing platforms resulting in a new flagship greenhouse, quickly dubbed The Great Emerald Hall™. Located in the Niagara wine region of the Emerald Horseshoe, this facility is the size of 21 hockey rinks (or approximately 200,000 square feet). Cultivation licenses came through in the spring of 2018 and The Great Emerald Hall™ produced its first harvest in August 2018.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP
In June 2017, with the vision of servicing the adult-use market, Hemisphere Pharmaceuticals was rebranded to become Up Cannabis. The Up brand was positioned in the ultra-premium segment with a strong connection to music.
2018 – EXECUTING OUR STRATEGY
Between mid 2017 to now, Newstrike Brands has bolstered its Sales, Marketing, Operations and Financial expertise and changed its focus to move from start-up to execution. At the same time, it has put a dedicated team in place to look beyond simply dry flower with the vision of becoming one of the most prominent consumer packaged goods company in the world focusing on product innovation and continuous growth.
HOSTILITY TO PROSPERITY
With every great start up story, there are always a few bumps in the road and Newstrike was certainly no exception. In 2017, Newstrike was in the middle of one of the first hostile takeover transactions in the industry and as a result ended up remaining as a stand-alone company. In the months following, the company was able to raise $130 million dollars to fully fund its business model and execute it’s plan.
PART OF A BIGGER STORY
On May 24th 2019 Newstrike Brands was acquired by Hexo Corp (TSX: HEXO; NYSE-A: HEXO). The Transaction gives the combined entity the capacity to produce approximately 150,000 kg of high-quality cannabis annually. The Transaction also provides access to four cutting-edge production campuses totalling close to 1.8 million sq. ft. of near-term cultivation space and diversified growing and production techniques. Combined, HEXO and Newstrike have established distribution agreements in 8 provinces including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, allowing broad consumer access to HEXO’s products across Canada.
A RESPONSIBLE CORPORATE CITIZEN
Consuming cannabis is a choice, not a right. With choice comes responsibility, and respect. Newstrike Brands is committed to developing safe, quality products and marketing those products in a responsible way. We are a founding member of the Global Cannabis Partnership whose mandate is to establish standards for responsible use and corporate best practices for adult-use cannabis.
We recognize and are excited about the opportunity to be a socially responsible corporation. Newstrike Brands is actively engaged in the community and the industry to do its part.