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RANT: It’s Not the Short That Screwed Over Aphria

Aphria (APHA) has had a brutal month after the now infamous QCM/Hindenburg research report was released.

The report was either a huge con where the truth was bent for monetary gain, or, it was an unveiling of fraudulent behaviour on Aphria’s part, time will tell. Either way, it’s up to Aphria’s management, rather than a bunch of users on Reddit to step in and defend its shareholders.

Aphria’s CEO Vic Neufeld has been unable to weather the storm. His painfully delayed ‘line by line‘ rebuttal is starting to make Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy look like an overnight passion project.

I won’t go too deep into the original report as it has been discussed at length the past few weeks. Everyone knows by now what’s in the report, and people de-crediting its authors has become widespread, but Aphria’s lack of a proper response still leaves the door open for many questions among investors.

If Aphria Has Nothing to Hide, Why Are They Hiding?

One of the main rules of PR is getting out in front of the story and controlling its narrative. This is an extreme example, but take a look at how Donald Trump handles PR. He has it mastered.

On the surface he often looks like a buffoon, often saying things at random. But, any conflict he creates he goes out and gets on top of it immediately, and not only fires shots back, but defends himself adamantly, creating even more news around him.

I am not saying Neufeld should come out and start firing out gossip about Grego and his team in Trump like fashion, but in this dire situation, something surely has to be done. A line by line rebuttal is a great idea, but it should have happened two weeks ago, how long would it really take if everything is as above board as Aphria claims? Many dedicated investors and reporters have also done a bunch of the legwork already.

Here is an informative illustration of what Grizzle thinks went down.

Aphria has always managed to stay out of the spotlight, not shamelessly promoting itself like others in the space. TGOD put out a press release last week because it updated its website, and if Cam Battley buys a new suit or finds a new trail to run on the West side of Vancouver there’s a slight chance Aurora may announce something. Or if Namaste buys a new domain name a series of press releases are put out to their cult like fans with heaps of praise for the futuristic and innovative ideas management has conjured up.

It’s understandable why Aphria has refused to play within this racket, but right now their brand and credibility are being absolutely shredded.

The New Age Retail Investor

To make things even worse, the cannabis industry is full of retail investors, many of which are newer to investing and  scare easily, as can be seen the amount of selling that occurred after the report went out.

If Grego chose to target Aphria because it had the most retail investors, and thus, had the most chance for a big selloff, then that was a smart move on his part. Aphria has branded itself as a safe, longterm investment. Many newer investors who have come into the space with say $10,000 to spend were likely to split their risk into 3 buckets: Aphira, Aurora and Canopy.

This was the most common answer across message boards and social media groups to the prevalent : ‘I am a new investor, which companies should I put my money in?’ question.

Side note: in the cannabis industry Facebook has largely replaced the financial advisor.

While the report was devastating to Aphria’s share price, things could have mitigated before things got too out of hand and Aphria could have seen maybe 1 or 2 days of blood bath instead of prolonged bleeding.

So where is this line by line rebuttal? It’s already far too late, but, better late than never.

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