Minnesota medical marijuana company LeafLine loses CEO

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

The chief executive of one of Minnesota’s two medical marijuana manufacturers has left the company after years of financial losses.

Andrew Bachman, LeafLine Labs’ co-founder and its chief executive since 2016, is no longer with the company “in any official capacity,” the company said Thursday in a statement to the Associated Press.

No reason was given for Bachman’s departure, and a company official didn’t immediately respond to questions. Bachman didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail or text message seeking comment.

But LeafLine lost $5.3 million in the year before Bachman left the company. That’s according to new 2017 financial documents on LeafLine Labs released by the state to The Associated Press.

Those losses bring LeafLine’s total losses to $12.2 million in the first three years of legal medical marijuana sales.

The Cottage Grove-based company has struggled since Minnesota’s medical marijuana sales began in 2015.

Two top executives left LeafLine last year, and the company temporarily scaled back operations in November during a supply shortage that Bachman blamed on lab testing delays.

LeafLine was one of two manufacturers selected to grow and cultivate medical marijuana in 2014, the year Minnesota’s Legislature passed its MMJ law.

Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is among the most restrictive in the United States.

Smokable cannabis is banned, so the companies can sell only MMJ liquids, pills, topicals or products that can be vaporized to patients who meet the qualifying conditions.

Each manufacturer is required to perform several rounds of testing on their medication and must run four dispensaries across the state.

Those restrictions have made business difficult for both MMJ companies. A 2017 audit showed that LeafLine and Minnesota Medical Solutions had lost a combined $11 million in just two years of legal sales.

But LeafLine’s losses have been worse, capped by a $4.7 million loss in 2016 alone.

The company also struggled late last year with supply, turning away some patients and temporarily closing a storefront in Eagan because of what Bachman said was a delay in the state-mandated, third-party testing of its medication.

This isn’t LeafLine’s first brush with turnover.

Bachman was the company’s first CEO until 2015, when LeafLine hired Manny Munson-Regala, a top state MMJ regulator the time. Munson-Regala left the job after just eight months, and Bachman reassumed the top job.

Last fall, the company’s co-founder and chief medical officer, Gary Starr, and chief financial officer, Colin Kelley, resigned. Bachman attributed their departures to “personal and professional reasons.”

– Associated Press