Canopy Growth CEO stepping down, cannabis company says

Montreal (AFP) - Canopy Growth announced the departure of its co-CEO Wednesday in a surprise leadership shakeup at the world's largest legal cannabis company.

"The board decided today, and I agree, my turn is over," said Bruce Linton, who led the Toronto-based company alongside Mark Zekulin since its founding in 2013.

Zekulin has been named the company's sole CEO and will work with the board while it searches for "a new leader to guide the company in its next phase of growth," a company statement said.

Listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges, Canopy Growth produces cannabis, hemp and cannabis devices for the medical and recreational markets.

It operates retail stores across Canada under its Tweed and Tokyo Smoke banners, and a dozen licensed cannabis production sites.

It recently received a Can$5 billion investment from Constellation Brands, an alcoholic beverage company, in exchange for a 37 percent stake in the rapidly expanding Canopy Growth.

In an interview with Canadian public broadcaster CBC, Linton attributed his ouster to a new board installed after the Constellation Brands deal.

"It was eight months and two days ago when the board changed with the $5 billion investment and so the board dynamic is very critical at companies," he said.

"I think, you know, boards are either 100% on side with the leadership or they're not. And if they're not, over time, they do what has been done, which is change it."

Linton acknowledged: "I'm probably not the most easy guy to get along with because you don't create a $20 billion company by saying, 'hey, people, what would you like me to do today?'"