Collaboration: from the Latin word collaboratus, a past participle of collaborare “to labor together”, from Latin com- + laborare to labor.
In a letter dated January 13th, 2014 from the Licences and Permits Division of Health Canada’s Office of Controlled Substances, CEN Biotechs CEO, Mr. Bill Chaaban is personally thanked for his collaboration with Health Canada through the licensing process of Canada’s newly formed Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
Canada’s MMPR is the country’s newest set of regulations pertaining to the growing, buying, and selling of medical marijuana. It outlines an extensive and tightly controlled system for doctors, patients, and large-scale commercial marijuana growers to operate effectively and safely under a federally mandated initiative which facilitates Canadian access to medical marijuana.
So why is Health Canada thanking this company’s CEO?
Well, the MMPR is a newly formed system. While previously, patients could grow their own marijuana through a personal use production license, or by designating someone to grow on their behalf. New policy would restrict these activities to large scale, tightly regulated licensed producers. With the exception of an existing court injunction to allow certain growers to continue under the old system, there are legitimate concerns of a shortage of product being available to patients in switching over to this new system. To help tackle this potential bottleneck, Health Canada needed to ready these large scale growers at the earliest opportunity, otherwise the program could be facing even more criticism than it has already, may not be effective, and could potentially collapse.
And so, at the impelling request of Health Canada, through one of the worst recent winters in Canada, and at much expense, CEN Biotech agreed to expedite the build out of a 12 million dollar world class, high security medical marihuana facility in Lakeshore Ontario which would be licensed to produce a staggering 1.32 million pounds (600,000kg) of dried medical grade marijuana at full operational capacity. And the company has since done exactly that.
Although it’s not clear who is behind their efforts or why, during the facility build out, the company picked up a few incredibly harsh media critics. One of these critics, working at the Toronto based news outlet, “The Globe and Mail”, has written well over a dozen articles slamming the company repeatedly with terms like “gross misrepresentation”, “fabrications”, “false claims”, “cloud of suspicions”, and “questionable conduct” allegedly to distort the public’s perception of the company and subsequently seriously affect the company’s market value as a publicly traded entity (OTC: FITX) to the tune of some $300 million USD in market capitalization.
According to Wikipedia, Collaboration in business can be found both inter- and intra-organization and ranges from the simplicity of a partnership and crowd funding to the complexity of a multinational corporation. Collaboration between public, private and voluntary sectors can be effective in tackling complex policy problems, but may be handled more effectively by committed boundary-spanning teams and networks than by formal organizational structures.”
This partnership through boundary spanning collaboration is just one example whereby the Globe and mail reporter was found to be frequently misrepresenting the actions and statements made by the company throughout his articles, claiming that the company was misleading investors by claiming it has been favored by the government. However, this was clearly not the case as there are no such records in existence that show the company had misled investors in this regard. In fact, in response to recent actions towards the company by Health Canada, hundreds of CEN Biotech investors have recently sent letters to Health Minister Rona Ambrose as well as regulatory authorities requesting an investigation into this reporter and his associates in relation to these outlandish claims, stating repeatedly things like: “Never at any time during my investment have I felt misled by the company or CEO”.
So where did this particular example originate?
Well, in light of Health Canada’s collaborative expressions, as well as private communications from the company towards Health Canada wherein they refer to Health Canada as their “governmental partner”, the company was evidently correct in the utilization of this term.
And although the company did not flaunt these expressions in any way shape or form, the non-contextual criticism over this partnership which was briefly expressed one time by Mr. Chaaban at a public marijuana investor’s conference in Denver Colorado in June of 2014 has been repeated and distorted to no end. During his speech, Mr. Chaaban expressed his company’s commitment to partnering with Health Canada in helping to make Canada the leader in both the supply and the education of medical marijuana, and to help reduce the Canadian people’s dependency on dangerous prescription drugs through a medical marijuana education program. Here is that statement transcribed;
“We’ve committed to Health Canada from 6 months ago from first discussions, and as early as 2 weeks ago, that we were going to partner with them to help to build an industry both domestic and foreign to make Canada the leader in the supply and sale and education of medical marijuana. We’re going to create an education program in Canada for physicians to reduce the dependency on oxycontin and percocet and give people medical marijuana. We’ve committed to do research for different disease States, different strain specific uses. Now in Canada it’s only dried marijuana, that’s all that can be sold. We intend, we’d like to band together with other LP’s and future LP’s to lobby the government and have different delivery mechanisms. It’s very important for the patients to have access to different delivery methods.”
To further expand from the wiki definition: “Collaboration is… working with others to carry out a task and to achieve shared goals. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together towards the realization of shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective)”.
This is clearly what was expressed by Bill Chaaban in this example, and what was understood by investors. Yet this term has been taken out of context and grossly exaggerated in an effort to either seriously harm the company for whatever reason, or to negatively affect the company’s stock price. Readers who possess a keen sense of literary structure and grammatical emphasis (and perhaps even the laymen) should be able to comprehend that these articles are “designed” to harm.
Many other events and statements by the company have not been presented in their proper context by this reporter. Such as when the company started receiving and recording death threats and decided it was in the best interest of an employee’s family’s safety to give him a temporary neutral alias. This was immediately presented and repeated by the globe and mail reporter as “company invents fake employee”, without having any legitimate sound evidence to support such claims. Or when the company was told by Health Canada that they would receive their license within approximately 2 weeks after the pre license inspection took place, and the company vaguely conveyed this information to investors, rightfully so, all the while having this reporter falsely claim imminent licensing as being some myth that the company had lied about.
So why would a reporter, with no known background in finance, be so interested in the value of the company’s stock? And why would a reporter from a relatively respectable name in Canadian news be so infatuated with a company traded as a “penny stock” on the OTC?
Cyberterrorism Rampant in the world of Penny Stocks
In an alleged campaign to destroy the company’s share price. CEN Biotech has had over 70 documented articles written against the company over the span of just 1 year, almost exclusively by just a few individuals. Almost all of which have based their written content on misrepresentation, and almost all has been strategically timed at key points that would do the most damage to the company’s publicly traded value, such as when press releases are issued by the company or share price begins to increase. In correlation with multiple “stock bashing” aliases operating full time around the clock on message boards such as IHUB and yahoo, this assault, coupled with a delay and rejection in licensing the company by Health Canada (which is allegedly based upon these false allegations), has reduced the company’s share price from a high of over 10 cents, to under a penny at current valuations. Most of these attacks have coincided with a very large amount of short selling, which may be an indication of a short and distort scheme being present.
Short selling is the sale of a security (stock) that is not owned by the seller, or that the seller has borrowed from his broker. Short selling is motivated by the belief that a security’s price will decline, enabling it to be bought back at a lower price to make a profit. Basically, the investor “borrows” shares from his/her broker, sells them on the open market, expecting the value of the company to decrease, and then buys shares back at a cheaper price and returns them to his broker, netting a cash profit.
Investopedia defines “Short and Distort” as an illegal practice employed by unethical internet investors who short-sell a stock and then spread unsubstantiated rumors and other kinds of unverified bad news in an attempt to drive down the equity’s price and realize a profit.
One of these writers in this small group outlined above, Matthew Finston, who has openly admitted to stock bashing on several occasions through social media, and has written dozens of negative articles attacking the company, was a source for and has ties to one Grant Robertson of The Globe and Mail who has also written well over a dozen articles, helping to drive the company’s stock price down to sub penny levels. In fact, Grant refers to Matt Finston in one of his articles as a source, and includes a photograph of Finston.
Most recently, Matt Finston has joined up with the “pumpanddumps.com” which is a website that touts itself as a group who exposes fraudulent penny stock companies who falsely inflate stock price. Although the website has been accused of actually working on the other side of this coin and actually perpetrating short and distort schemes. When Mr. Finston joined the site, the following announcement was sent out by pumpanddumps:
“What a coup! We’ve just landed popular SeekingAlpha analyst, Matt Finston to our Pumps & Dumps editorial team and we could not be more excited. Over the years, Matt has exposed numerous frauds at risk to life, limb and financial well-being. For example, Matt was the first to truly take Creative Edge Nutrition (FITX) to task for its dubious management and behavior with an almost prophetic report because nine months later FITX was denied the Canadian license to grow marijuana it so coveted and intimated was in the bag.
Matt’s hard hitting reports have subjected him not only to accolades, but to ridicule and even lawsuits from those he exposes. Undaunted he continues to produce the facts. We are thrilled and proud to have Matt join our reporting team. He joins our other well-known penny stock analyst, Janice Shell. in bringing the truth to the OTC market.
Matt’s first report for Pumps & Dumps will be published in the coming days and will be an article open to all. But after that, you will have to be a Full Access subscriber to get access to Matt’s valuable insight and impeccable research. Believe it when we tell you that those left holding the FITX bag wish they would have paid more attention to Matt’s reports on the company.”
Was Finston’s coverage of this company truly “Almost prophetic”? Or was he in fact one of the factors contributing to the damage that caused so much trouble for the company throughout its licensing process? Was he involved in a lengthy short and distort scheme of some kind to destroy the company for some sort of financial gain in collaboration with Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail? Perhaps this sounds far-fetched to some, however over 1200 people have recently signed a petition on change.org alluding in part to this notion, with many comments naming or alluding to these specific individuals. This is in addition to hundreds of letters that the SEC and OSC were copied on recently that were sent by investors to Rona Ambrose about the abuse of the company and distortion of facts in allegations by this ring of writers.
What may be most disturbing about the announcement above is that Finston has joined with one Janice Shell who either works for or runs this site. A simple “Janice Shell” google search will net many results where accusations and legal suits against Ms. Shell (and aliases), as well as accomplices, can be found relating to fraud, stock bashing, trademark infringement, defamation, breach of contract, libel, slander, and conspiracy. Readers of these authors beware. We would also encourage readers to do a little research on organized crime since some of these traits may coincide.
Hope now resting in Canada’s legal system
The company CEN Biotech is now going through the process of Judicial Review with the Federal Courts in Canada in response to a denial letter of their license. A denial letter that the company believes was issued on false pretenses or insufficient evidence. Health Canada may very well have rejected the company’s license application based upon “hearsay”… if you will, as from what we have seen and what we know about the MMPR licensing process; it has not in any way been in accordance with MMPR licensing guidelines or related regulations.
In the midst of so many forms of intense criticism, mounting lawsuits, and judicial reviews, the question now perhaps becomes: How much tax money will Health Canada spend in fighting against their own patients?
Some investors see this as an opportunity to purchase shares at a discounted price. Many are outraged that the attack has been allowed to continue for so long without sufficient regulatory intervention or protection. Most of the company’s investors clearly want to see these people investigated by authorities on a criminal level. But one thing is certain… The decision is now out of the hands of Health Canada, and in the hands of the Federal Courts, where real facts determine real outcomes.