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'I took the job and the rest is history': Emerald Health Therapeutics CEO Bin Huang on Building a Successful Cannabis Company

After ten years in the biotech space, Bin Huang entered the cannabis industry as the CEO and President of Emerald Health Therapeutics, which researches, develops, and produces a range of cannabis products. 

1. What makes your company different from others in the cannabis space?

There are a few ways we’re different from other companies. First, we have a strong medical focus at Emerald. Our core competency is in clinical research and the development of intellectual property for downstream cannabis products. We’re also generating clinical data to better understand the potential medical benefit of cannabis. 

In addition, we have a highly qualified senior team with experience in pharmaceutical drug discovery, development, production, and distribution. Our Executive Chairman, Dr. Avtar Dhillon, is a life sciences entrepreneur with more than 20 years experience in building companies, securing government grants and NGO funding, and building strong IP portfolios. Our Vice President of Research and Quality Affairs, Dr. Frey Garabagi, has over 10 years of experience in plant molecular genetics and medical technologies, while our Vice President of Production, Traviss Graham, has over 15 years experience in cannabis production, processing, and product development. 

Lastly, we’re dedicated to scaling up our business to meet anticipated future demand of adult-use cannabis. We have two significant expansion projects that will greatly increase production capacity and enable us to produce high quality, low cost cannabis. These projects include a 50,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art, cultivation space in Metro Vancouver and a 1.1 million sq. ft. greenhouse that is part of our joint venture with Village Farms. These endeavors have the potential to make Emerald one of the largest production facilities, estimating over 5 million sq. ft. that could yield more than $1 billion in sales. 

2. How did you get into the cannabis space?

After spending over 10 years leading two biotech companies in Canada, I was approached by our company chairman to join the Emerald team. It sounded like an exciting and new challenge for me, and fit well with my previous experience in clinical development and medical research. So, I took the job and the rest is history. 

3. Walk us through a normal day.

No two days are the same. On any given day, I’m presenting at a conference, speaking with investors and industry contacts, meeting with our teams in Victoria and Vancouver, and discussing next steps for the expansion plan. The days are so busy that my nights are reserved for reading and catching up with all the industry news. It’s a 24/7 job, but I love what I do. 

4. What do you see as your biggest opportunity?

The opening of the adult-use market by next summer poses a significant upside for cannabis companies. As a licensed producer, we’re already in a good position to capitalize on this opportunity and expanding our operations so that we’re ready as soon as legalization is in place. Also, the medical market continues to grow. Researchers are eager to gain a better understanding of the effects of medical cannabis and how it can benefit patients. 

5. What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?

We have a strong growth strategy and are rapidly expanding our production capacity, which will serve as the backbone for all of Emerald’s medical and adult-use endeavors. Our team is also focused on downstream product development and advancing cannabis science. We have a rich collection of cannabis strains from an extensive genetic library, which serves as a strong base for our ongoing product development efforts.

6. What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?

There is some uncertainty about future regulation – everything is changing. For example, each province in Canada will have a different distribution model for adult-use cannabis. This will be challenging in terms of planning ahead and understanding which distribution channel to use.  

7. What would you say to those who are considering investing in your company?

We’re an emerging leader in the global cannabis industry. As the eighth licensed producer in Canada, we’re pioneers in providing safe, efficacious, and high-value cannabis products. Our aim is to prove the health benefits of cannabinoids with clinical evidence.  We’re passionate about the science and have decades of experience in pharmaceutical development and large-scale greenhouse growing. We believe these core competencies can ultimately drive value for shareholders. 

8. What are the biggest challenges of being a publicly offered cannabis company?

There are lingering misconceptions associated with cannabis, which can create some hesitancy for potential investors. However, we are seeing a growing investor base and increased interest in the cannabis industry. This creates an opportunity for us to provide greater understanding and educate others about the benefits of cannabis through our clinical studies.

9. What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?

Be passionate about putting out a quality product and have a strong understanding of compliance and regulation. Due diligence is a must. 

10. What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?

Understand your target audience and what their needs are. Your product should offer something unique that is not currently on the market. Identify a problem, and work diligently to find a resolution that ultimately benefits your customer. 

11. Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?

The future of cannabis is bright. With the upcoming legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada, we’ll continue to see the space evolve here and across the world. We look forward to working with the Canadian government and providing input to help formulate the adult-use cannabis regulatory framework. We welcome change as it brings new opportunities to provide high-quality cannabis that can enhance health and well-being for consumers. 


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