Slain billionaire Barry Sherman was helping to develop 'pot pill'
CannTrust, a new company, was given a Health Canada licence in June 2014 to produce medical cannabis at a facility in Vaughan. The people involved in Canntrust included brothers Eric and Norman Paul, both pharmacists and entrepreneurs. Company documents show they initially produced cannabis in a 40,000-square-foot hydroponic indoor facility, and then a second, larger facility was added in the Niagara Region.
To people with permission to purchase cannabis for medical reasons, CannTrust sells oils, drops, and dried marijuana for smoking. The company website lists marijuana products with names like Royal Purple Kush, Diesel and Sensi Star. Shipping is free on all orders of $90 or more, the site says.
But the owners of the company, with their pharmacy background, speculated that the future of medical marijuana lay in pills that would deliver relief for six to eight hours. One investor told the Star that soldiers and others with PTSD “smoke and smoke and smoke to alleviate their symptoms.” Smoking, he said, provides short-term relief. A properly designed slow-release pill could help over a longer period.
An early investor in CannTrust was Jack Kay, Apotex’s CEO for many years and Sherman’s trusted right-hand man since 1982. Kay had over the years developed a friendship with Aubrey Dan from the rival Canadian generic firm Novopharm.
Dan’s father, Leslie, founded Novopharm, which the family eventually sold to Israeli firm Teva. In the early days, Apotex and Novopharm were engaged in constant battles, though Kay and Aubrey Dan got along well and served together on an industry council. Kay suggested in 2016 that Aubrey Dan invest in Canntrust, and he did.
Kay, who is now vice-chairman and CEO of Apotex, said he supported an eventual partnership between Apotex and CannTrust because “cannabis for medicinal purposes should not be ingested with the current and