In June 2018, former Mayor David Augustyn, centre, with CannTrust officials at the Fenwick facility's official opening. Far left, Eric Paul; in mirrored sunglasses, Peter Aceto; far right, Mark Litwin. Augustyn declared that the company's marijuana operation “provides hope to our community.” Paul, Aceto, and Litwin later faced criminal charges related to illegal cannabis growing at the site. VOICE FILE

Brand tainted by illegality

CannTrust appears to severing ties with its controversial past in announcing a major rebrand. The cannabis producer released a statement May 3 noting that effective immediately, the company will be renamed Phoena.

“Phoena reflects who we are today — stronger, more experienced and more focused — and forms the foundation for our future success as we enter the next era of our evolution,” a prepared text from CEO Greg Guyatt read.

Pronounced “fee-nah,” the name is derived from the word phenotype, which describes traits taken from a plant’s genetic code, according to the statement.

A spokesperson from Hill + Knowlton — the PR firm that has been representing the company — told the Voice that the new Phoena nomenclature and associated signage will be updated at the company’s Fenwick facility “in the coming few weeks.”

In February, it was announced that Netherlands-based holding company Marshall Fields International BV would take control of CannTrust. The company’s downfall began in 2019 when a former employee blew the whistle on an illegal growing scheme at the Fenwick site. Following the indictments of multiple executives, CannTrust paid $50 million into a trust to help settle a class-action lawsuit by former shareholders — who saw the stock delisted from the New York and Toronto exchanges.