Arlene Dickinson joins the board at Aphira

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Courtesy of Lift Magazine

On Friday, Aphira announced that Canadian business icon Arlene Dickinson will be joining their Board of Directors.

Congratulations to Aphira on this incredible move: Ms. Dickinson, CEO of marketing powerhouse Venture Communications and long-time Dragon on the hit CBC show Dragons’ Den, is arguably one of the most influential businesspeople in Canada today.

And congratulations to Ms. Dickinson for seizing this wonderful opportunity to gain a foothold in the nascent Canadian cannabis economy. Part of her contract extended her a three year option to purchase 50,000 shares of Aphira at their current market value of $3.70 per share. It’s easy to see how this move could easily pan out for her in the long term, given current trends in the regulatory climate.

As a longtime fan of Dragons’ Den myself, and of Arlene in particular, it’s easy for me to get excited about this. Her style of entrepreneurship always seemed to balance a shrewd canny for the big picture with an open mindedness and empathy that some of her colleagues on the show seemed to lack at times (if not almost entirely in the case of a certain Mr. O’Leary).

However, on hearing this news, I couldn’t help but recall a couple segments of Dragons’ Den that featured medical marijuana pitches, and it seemed to me that Ms. Dickinson had been rather dismissive of them.

And before I even had time to scour Youtube in search of the record, twitter user @CannabisDad beat me to it.

@AphriaInc The defender of medical marijuana @ArleneDickinson? This one?

— CannabisDad (@CannabisDad) October 28, 2016

The first thing that struck me about this segment — regardless of the product or the fact that it was technically illegal at the time — was that the pitch was a complete trainwreck. The pitcher decided to value her pre-revenue, easily copied, illegal “medicinal macaroon” business at 1.5 million dollars, but got her numbers wrong at the beginning of the pitch, stating that she would like to sell 25 percent of her 1.5 million dollar business for $500,000. I’ll just let you try and work that out at home.

This mistake on it’s own would be a huge red flag for any investor, nevermind the fantastical valuation and easily replicable product. So when I watch this clip now, I can’t fault Arlene for the disapproving look on her face. The presentation was terrible on so many levels, including one point when Dickinson, one of Canada’s leading marketing experts, rightly pointed out a glaring flaw in the pitcher’s marketing strategy, to which the pitcher snarkily replied “how do you know?”

@AphriaInc @ArleneDickinson Or is it “moral fibre” Arlene?

— CannabisDad (@CannabisDad) October 28, 2016

In the second segment, Dickinson’s tone was clearly more disapproving.  The pitch was for some sort of (now defunct) MMAR designated grow scheme called, as generically as possible, “Canada’s Medicinal Marijuana Store.” Almost straight away Dickinson indicated that she was flabbergasted, and not simply because of the poor quality

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