Canopy Growth employees in the company's production facility in Canada.
  • Canopy Growth, a $10 billion (some R140 billion) Canadian marijuana firm, has spun off its venture-capital arm.
  • Canopy Rivers makes minority investments in burgeoning marijuana companies as part of its goal to become the 'Google Ventures of cannabis.'

Canopy Rivers, the venture-capital arm of Canopy Growth, made its trading debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada on Thursday.

The company, which makes minority investments in burgeoning dagga companies, in an attempt to become the "Google Ventures of cannabis," found its way onto the exchange via a reverse takeover with a company formerly known as AIM2 Ventures.

Canopy Growth will maintain its roughly 25% stake in Canopy Rivers, and controls about 90% of the voting rights thanks to the venture arm's dual-class governance structure. The other three quarters of Rivers' roughly $200 million of investments have come from institutional investors.

See also: A South African food logistics company is trying to get a licence to grow dagga in the UK

"In Canopy I don't want to be in the business of growth directly, by trying to make bets on stocks through buying and selling," CEO Bruce Linton told the Canadian program Midas Letter last week. "In Rivers, we want to be in that business. We're not just putting cash into them, we're putting intellectual skills and expertise."

So far the firm has made 11 investments in smaller companies. It looks for stellar management teams with a track record of success when making new investments, a Rivers executive recently explained to Business Insider. 

Dagga stocks in North America have been on fire this month. Tilray, now the largest producer by market capitalisation, has seen its stock price more than triple, boosted by receiving clearance to export medical marijuana to the United States for a clinical drug trial. Meanwhile, Canopy Growth's market value has doubled over that time following a $4 billion investment from Constellation Brands, the company behind Corona, Modelo, and other popular alcoholic beverages.

See also: 5 things you need to know about growing dagga at home

There's still plenty of room for the space to grow, too, Wall Street analysts estimate. Nik Modi, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, thinks the global-cannabis market could be worth more than $200 billion by 2032, fuelled by further legalisation in the United States and other countries – such as South Africa.

That global expansion is what Canopy Rivers hopes to tap through its strategic investments and deals.

"Canopy Rivers presents a world of opportunity for its partners and for Canopy Growth," CEO Bruce Linton said in a press release.

"It’s the type of relationship that allows us to continue to grow our lead in this incredibly dynamic industry … Whether it’s access to new brands, new technologies, differentiated products, first rights to future financing opportunities, and even rights to future full acquisition, Rivers will build value for shareholders, including Canopy Growth by building value for its portfolio partners.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: