WeedMD CEO steps down in second leadership change in 11 months

There has been another leadership shakeup at a Southwestern Ontario pot producer for the second time in less than a year.

Angelo Tsebelis has stepped down as WeedMD’s chief executive and board director, the cannabis company announced this week.

The change in leadership comes 11 months after former WeedMD chief executive Keith Merker exited the top job after a two-year stint.

The board has appointed its executive chairman, George Scorsis, to lead the company temporarily while a search for Tsebelis’ permanent replacement is underway, WeedMD said.

“Angelo was integral in merging our businesses, optimizing our operations, commercializing our sales and distribution initiatives and bringing a renewed focus on brand awareness,” Scorsis said in a statement.

“During his tenure, WeedMD achieved a two-fold sales increase in the first nine months of 2020, compared to the full year 2019. We appreciate his contributions to our growth, his counsel during our transition and we wish him well on his future endeavours.”

Before taking the helm of WeedMD in February, Tsebelis was the president of Starseed, a Toronto-based supplier of insurance-covered medicinal marijuana that WeedMD acquired in 2019.

The $78-million all-stock deal was touted for its potential to expand WeedMD’s prescription pot patient base.

“Unfortunately, their medical sales dropped by half since the first quarter of the merger,” said Craig Wiggins, a marijuana industry analyst and managing director of the Cannalysts.

“I would say that the board wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the CEO.”

Mid-sized cannabis companies like WeedMD need to be able to grow their sales, especially in the lucrative recreational market, Wiggins said, noting the market doubled in the past 12 months.

“If your sales didn’t double in size, you’ve lost market share,” he said.

Wiggons predicted that WeedMD’s next chief executive will come from outside the cannabis industry, a sector that’s seen high leadership turnover since Canada legalized recreational marijuana in 2018.

“Finding someone that has experience running a profitable company in cannabis, there aren’t any people like that,” he said.

Founded in 2014, WeedMD employs more than 300 people at its operations in Aylmer, Strathroy and  Bowmanville and offices in London and Toronto.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

 

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