Matthew Whitaker

(This story has been updated with extra facts and comments from Alternate Well being.)

Toronto-primarily based CBD firm Alternate Well being has tapped the former highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the U.S. to serve as outdoors counsel, officials announced Tuesday.

In announcing it was retaining former U.S. Lawyer Common Matthew Whitaker and his Kansas City, Missouri-primarily based law firm, Graves Garret, Alternate Well being also stated it is leaving the marijuana market place totally.

Whitaker was a controversial figure throughout his quick term operating the U.S. Division of Justice beneath President Donald Trump. He was acting lawyer general for 3 months following Jeff Sessions resigned in November 2018.

Whitaker’s part at Alternate will involve “strategically advising” the CBD firm, according to a statement.

“I believe there is severe possible in the CBD business,” he stated, “and absolutely everyone at Alternate Well being will function really hard to be a leader in the business.”

The firm stated Whitaker will coordinate legal matters and create its legal tactic as Alternate expands into new markets.

In early May possibly, Alternate announced that it was getting into the CBD market place by way of a $20 million agreement to obtain Southern California-primarily based Blaine Labs. Later that month, Alternate stated it was pivoting to exclusively concentrate on “ CBD solution sales and cannabinoid medicine.”

Scott Holtby, vice president of communications, stated the company’s pivot away from marijuana is not connected to bringing Whitaker and his firm into the fold.

He stated Alternate brought in “zero actual direct ( marijuana) income, so that is aspect of the purpose we decided to alter tack a tiny bit.

“We explored the recreational market place in California … at this time we’re not as optimistic about the recreational ( marijuana) space as we are about CBD due to the legal status of ( marijuana) in the United States.”

Alternate has not however signed any definitive offers to divest of its marijuana assets, he stated.

Whitaker will also be charged with investigating “certain actions in Canada by a California-primarily based competitor,” according to the firm.

Holtby would not disclose the name of the California-primarily based competitor.

Whitaker’s compensation will be by way of a conventional legal retainer. No stock possibilities are aspect of the arrangement.

A former U.S. lawyer in Iowa, Whitaker is not the initially higher-profile Republican to develop into involved in the cannabis business.

Former U.S. Home Speaker John Boehner joined the advisory board of New York-primarily based Acreage Holdings final year.

Whitaker raised eyebrows in his quick tenure more than the agency that contains the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

He was criticized for organization ties to Trump and for comments important of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The state of Maryland challenged the legality of Whitaker’s appointment. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge, but Whitaker left the Justice Division quickly following.

Alternate, which trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as AHG, is also eyeing expansion in Latin America by way of a joint venture agreement with Oltecate Enterprises in Mexico.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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