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Ep.318: Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.318: Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth

Ep.318: Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth

Fresh off the Constellation Brands deal, Bruce Linton joins us and shares that one of the things that he has to do is look at other sectors. So he’s been watching alcohol, tobacco and Pharma- looking at structures and public statements. The only company in the alcohol space that seemed to be forecasting an interest in cannabis was Constellation. Bruce and his team reached out to figure out how to make it happen and found a company with an entrepreneurial spirit with a likeminded approach. For his part, Bruce see’s the producer of Corona Beer as a beverage manufacturer. He notes that whenever and wherever there’s a market for non-medical cannabis beverages any where in the world- Constellation is with whom Canopy Growth will be working.

Transcript:

Speaker 3: fresh off the constellation brands deal. Bruce Linton joins us and shares that. One of the things that he has to do is look at other sectors, so he's been watching alcohol, tobacco and foremost, looking at structures and public statements. The only company in the alcohol space that seemed to be forecasting and interest in cannabis was constellation. Bruce and his team reached out to figure out how to make it happen and found a company with an entrepreneurial spirit with a like minded approach for his part. Bruce sees the producer of corona beer as a beverage manufacturer. He knows that whenever and wherever, there's a market for non medical cannabis beverages anywhere in the world. Constellation is with whom canopy growth will be working. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hammock. Can Economy two ends of the word economy. Bruce Lindsay?

Speaker 1: No. See if we will and a nice breeze. What is going on and why can't you fix your studio? I know, I mean we're in the back of the room where you are going to be in the front of the room at mgm in Vegas, which is very different for a concrete slab outside the, uh, the hall in Tel Aviv. That was very pleasant. It was better, but, you know, listen, now we got to take you where we can get you, you know, you're making deals that uh, are, are raising eyebrows. Bruce, right. Spring did you see the one? We got greenhouse, a, an organic are part of our world up in Canada now. The apartment into be producers with the only place you'll be able to get their product in Canada is the tweet main street and uh, they're going to actually have their genetics coming over and working with us, uh, on, on one our sites where they're going to like essentially be a partner because we've made a joint venture making joint ventures in this sector to sector.

Speaker 1: Right? So appropriate. Makes Sense. Some, uh, I think they found that the strain, hundreds found a new place and it's uh, it turns out that it's kind of big earth of course. So, um, you know that, so congratulations on that. Yeah, I think that as far as constellation brands who obviously produces corona, uh, what was so interesting about that, uh, well there are also many things but the fact that alcohol is part of this, right? So, um, where, you know, how much can you tell us where did this conversation begin, you know, and, and how did it progress? And so, you know, when one of the things you have to do is look at other sectors. So we've been watching alcohol, people watching tobacco, we've been watching Pharma and we've been looking at structures and we've been looking at public statements and the only company that actually seemed to be of the view that this is going to happen and we should be focused on how do we make it happen and be part of it in the alcohol sector was constellation and there were public record statements by their CEO that made us watch them very closely.

Speaker 1: But December last year we reached out because we actually wanted to talk about how we want to make it happen and how they could help us think about stuff and how we can help them think about this. And then over a course of several months it became another discussion about do that plus put some cash in. But it was never about actually the cash because in Canada or the public markets, my access to capital is extremely high. What I wanted was a relationship that allowed us to actually spend the money more wisely together. And so they came on board. I don't think there's any other actor right now who's substantial in that sector looking at it other than watching what we do. Got It. And, uh, I've had a number of people that said to me, I'm only gonna buy constellation products because they're actually legit. Right? These guys, they're not, they're not fighting, they're joining God.

Speaker 3: fresh off the constellation brands deal. Bruce Linton joins us and shares that. One of the things that he has to do is look at other sectors, so he's been watching alcohol, tobacco and foremost, looking at structures and public statements. The only company in the alcohol space that seemed to be forecasting and interest in cannabis was constellation. Bruce and his team reached out to figure out how to make it happen and found a company with an entrepreneurial spirit with a like minded approach for his part. Bruce sees the producer of corona beer as a beverage manufacturer. He knows that whenever and wherever, there's a market for non medical cannabis beverages anywhere in the world. Constellation is with whom canopy growth will be working. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hammock. Can Economy two ends of the word economy. Bruce Lindsay?

Speaker 1: No. See if we will and a nice breeze. What is going on and why can't you fix your studio? I know, I mean we're in the back of the room where you are going to be in the front of the room at mgm in Vegas, which is very different for a concrete slab outside the, uh, the hall in Tel Aviv. That was very pleasant. It was better, but, you know, listen, now we got to take you where we can get you, you know, you're making deals that uh, are, are raising eyebrows. Bruce, right. Spring did you see the one? We got greenhouse, a, an organic are part of our world up in Canada now. The apartment into be producers with the only place you'll be able to get their product in Canada is the tweet main street and uh, they're going to actually have their genetics coming over and working with us, uh, on, on one our sites where they're going to like essentially be a partner because we've made a joint venture making joint ventures in this sector to sector.

Speaker 1: Right? So appropriate. Makes Sense. Some, uh, I think they found that the strain, hundreds found a new place and it's uh, it turns out that it's kind of big earth of course. So, um, you know that, so congratulations on that. Yeah, I think that as far as constellation brands who obviously produces corona, uh, what was so interesting about that, uh, well there are also many things but the fact that alcohol is part of this, right? So, um, where, you know, how much can you tell us where did this conversation begin, you know, and, and how did it progress? And so, you know, when one of the things you have to do is look at other sectors. So we've been watching alcohol, people watching tobacco, we've been watching Pharma and we've been looking at structures and we've been looking at public statements and the only company that actually seemed to be of the view that this is going to happen and we should be focused on how do we make it happen and be part of it in the alcohol sector was constellation and there were public record statements by their CEO that made us watch them very closely.

Speaker 1: But December last year we reached out because we actually wanted to talk about how we want to make it happen and how they could help us think about stuff and how we can help them think about this. And then over a course of several months it became another discussion about do that plus put some cash in. But it was never about actually the cash because in Canada or the public markets, my access to capital is extremely high. What I wanted was a relationship that allowed us to actually spend the money more wisely together. And so they came on board. I don't think there's any other actor right now who's substantial in that sector looking at it other than watching what we do. Got It. And, uh, I've had a number of people that said to me, I'm only gonna buy constellation products because they're actually legit. Right? These guys, they're not, they're not fighting, they're joining God.

Speaker 1: And so I, I hope to see that, you know, maybe they'll have a little spike in their sales, have you owe me or uh, you know, a corona Modelo, but you gotta give them credit, right? They didn't, they didn't hide from it. They embraced. So what were those initial statements that you saw? What, what kind of peaked your interest? Um, so Mr Sands Robson's is the CEO and has been for quite a number of years. He made a public statement saying that I'd like to be in this space. And you took that seriously, like wow. Yeah. Um, because if you look at the other folks, uh, in the alcohol business, what they would like is for this space to go away, to disappear, to be curved. If I just closed my eyes and ears and stamp my feet, hopefully this won't happen. Yeah. And so, um, we like that.

Speaker 1: But even that, so even if he'd have made a public statement, we turned out that they're just a big corporation with absolutely no entrepreneurial spirit. We couldn't have taken their money and worked with them because the quickest way to kill my company is to have a relationship with a company that is absolutely asymmetrical in terms of how they're governed or what they want to achieve. So this place, uh, as far as I can tell them, we've interacted with a lot of them, a at constellation is that they are a really big entrepreneurial company. Interesting. And in the sector of alcohol, that's pretty unusual, right? Um, so I think their approach and our approach actually, you know, we signed the document in the next day, we were like, OK, what did we do today to make stuff happen? Um, which is exactly the way you should approach these things.

Speaker 1: It shouldn't be a finished line, it should be a start line. So at the starting line, what were they saying as far as what they wanted, and then we'll get around to your desires, right? There's a whole bunch of evolution, but the way it landed is, um, they are our beverage partner on a global basis, uh, when there's an non medical market for beverages anywhere, that's who we're working with God and to, uh, work with cannabis anywhere which is federally legal, where that partner for them. And the effect of that focus, or I'll call it alignment, is that there's nothing that we need to actually shelter or hide on either side. What do you mean? Well, um, if you were saying, well on Tuesdays you're my partner, but on Wednesdays you're not. Or if it's a month that ends with a, you know. No, you're right.

Speaker 1: It's all in the effect of that. It means that when you sit and work together, there's no benefit of actually not focusing everything you know and can do. All right. So it is a, an absolute partnerships or relationships or partnerships or funding where it's relationship is one of those things where you know, where your beginning and what you hope where you can make things work, but you both know you have to participate in work in it. Got It. As opposed to partnership wise. That definitely sounds to me like if you're opening a car dealership, you could have a partnership. You know, you've got forty nine percent. I've got 51 and I can tell you to piss off and do what I say I'm a structured versus the relationship with the patient. For anybody who has a spouse who had, whose spouse they shouldn't have any questions about the differences between the 49, 51 relationships.

Speaker 1: So you single people out there just try it on for a couple of years and then you'll know. So, um, that's the uh, the nature of the relationship. They are your beverage partner now for adult, for rec market. Totally understood. And were federally legal. Where do you want to go? Where do you see this going initially? And uh, you know, without alcohol and with alcohol, so we'll get into that without alcohol. So this is just a different drink. They're just a beverage company to beverage beverage. So um, people will be a big part of what you can make, depends on who your regulator is. A candidate for since 2001, we've had federal medical access regulation starting in 2018, we're going to have an open door where the feds regulate production and the province or states regulate sale and everybody has state or province level that regulates us.

Speaker 1: Their current only businesses regulating alcohol sales in Canada. If you go to a liquor store, it's principally owned and almost every province by the government. Right. And when you go in there, you know what, they sell alcohol, but you say, what? Can I buy gum? No, they don't saw them. How about beef jerky? No. Also that we sell alcohol and so they are not retailers. What they are is alcohol sales points. Right. And so think about 2019 when we're going to have more products available in the market because the regulators are going to open it up more so we have a more competitive offering to the black market. The regulator who doesn't sell beef jerky doesn't saw gum. Do you think they're really comfortable with edibles or liquid infused beverages that are for adults? And so I think the Canadian platform is actually because of who regulates us, highly likely to embrace formats of product that may or may not be the standard way in say Colorado because the person regulated in Colorado may not have such a sole focused experience based on regulating liquids that cause and toxications.

Speaker 1: So it's almost a perfect, it's a long answer to explain why it makes a hell of a lot of sentence. Exactly. Beverages are probably going to be governed as a favorable entity, right? Right. Because they already know how to do it. You're not teaching, you're not teaching an old dog new tricks. And I think if you look around all jurisdictions trying to govern edibles is probably one of the trickiest piece of policies without question, right? Oh, you can't make gummy bears while I've been to a state where they make gummy squares, right? That's a hell of a difference. Um, you know, the square versus the bear, man, I am completely no longer as a child attracted to that Yo. Nice red gummy looking thing with sugar on the tea because it's square. I might cut my teeth. It's just very difficult to govern those. And I think, um, it's, it's going to be a form factor thing so that what people are going to really want to see is, um, the intensity, the strength, the effect is going to define what shape of a bottle.

Speaker 1: Right? Like if I showed you a beer bottle, you will expect in Canada that be about a four or five percent alcohol, you'll know the dosage and how many you want to have. Um, I think it's going to become socially normal through a bunch of things which include vaping, but I think you're going to find social norms. I'm having a liquid in a glass at an event is pretty much a social norm. We already do that. Yeah. So like I just want to, I just want to swap out what's in it and I liked the efficacy to be very similar. So if you know that that's the glass wine, this is kind of like a glass of wine in terms of onset duration, et cetera. And you'll learn what your glass of wine is. I can have three where you can have seven, you know, that's the sort of thing that I think is a way that society can feel access now if, if they want to stay in that format, great.

Speaker 1: Maybe that'll be a initial format that they'll feel more comfortable later to try something like a vape pen. Right? Um, but I'm not trying to, uh, re engineer society. I'm trying to introduce something that's exiting, prohibition. Love it. All right. So, uh, you mentioned the p Word as you, uh, go around the world here. You know, let's get back to a cannabis without beverage for a second. Where are you exporting to housing house things, Bruce, right? You know, so we're, we're active in six countries, including Canada. Those countries include some in Europe, some in South America and Australia can be more so like, um, we've exported to, we're the first Canadian company, second in the world to export to Germany. We set up operations in Denmark because Denmark passed the rules to say we're going to do this. Uh, we have, uh, in Spain we partnered with a company which I'm now used that word partner back to car dealership.

Speaker 1: We have an association with a company in Spain which is called El Caliber. Caliber is interesting in that they make a, they grown an awful lot of puppies. They make the ingredients that then other people buy from them to make opioids and you know, there's a lot of bad opioids, but they all start with poppies and not all opioids are bad. And these guys though recognize there may be less demand for their puppies. So they want to have another thing called cannabinoids. Right? And so were there, uh, South America, we're active in Brazil and we've initiated in Chile and we have a exports lining up to get over to Australia and we have an interest in os can in Australia. So it's, it's, um, really what we're doing is we kinda go around the globe wherever the public policy is coming together and we think that the governance is going to be good.

Speaker 1: So we didn't line up to get into Italy right away, but Italy's looking interesting now. Um, so it's, it's, it's each country and what we're seeing is there's an opportunity to export, but it seems to be a short term one. Well in until they have production domestically, they need to import. But the problem with importing anything to your countries, that means you're exporting money and if you export money long enough, you have none. And so, uh, what I find is most of these jurisdictions recognize what we're not doing is growing cannabis. What we are doing is economic development because cannabis production, I don't care what country you're in federally, legal or not, you tend to try to occupy places that have low cost of real estate and where there's low cost of real estate, that's because there aren't as many jobs or demands for that real estate, which means the local people have less work.

Speaker 1: Right? And so if you say like a, a abandoned chocolate factory for instance. So that town in smiths falls where you take a five hundred thousand square foot empty space and start filling it up and now you got three or four hundred people working there. That is a material change to that community. And all of a sudden when they have income coming in and then they buy a new car or they get a new roof on their house and everybody has worked. And so I think what you're going to find is every jurisdiction is going to treat this as an economic development where the opportunity for production will land in the lower income, lower rent jurisdictions, which is exactly where they need the jobs. Does that mean that you're looking to apply for licenses or however, let's take Germany for instance, everywhere we can be a producer, a distributor, a vertical integrator.

Speaker 1: That's what our business is. Give us an idea of what's going on on the ground in Germany. So we, um, we purchased a partner over there about a year ago, which Howard, he had licenses thereby to import and distribute cannabis. And in Germany they have processes which will eventually select people to be growers. Of course, I'm sure there are lots of folks who would like to do that. The same type of process exists in each of the countries where it's federally regulated. When you see an office of medicinal cannabis established, that means they're going to have regulations to become a producer. And so Denmark is looking for that, you know, each of the countries. And it's um, so exports are the things that happened before production happens or in between production meeting demand, right? So it's a half-step, almost any, you know, you, you would want the same thing if you're running any country.

Speaker 1: How big is that Germany market I, that is what it seems like most folks are most excited about that country. And in particular, I'm excited about it because Germany represents an extremely well organized. So we, for example, we became good manufacturing practices, GMP certified, a European standard. There are a lot of European countries that I could've had lead that we had Germans do it. Why? If I tell you that I meet the German standard, you say, well that's probably very good. Yeah, they probably do that in Germany is an extremely good governance area. And so I think people are excited about it. <Unk> [inaudible] million people a, I think they have the third highest rate of opioid use per capital. There's a bunch of these things happening. But um, it's also because they're going to be good governance. So that brings us to Spain, which is basically the opposite of that.

Speaker 1: But for my eyes looks a lot like Canada, if you will, Madrid being Toronto and Barcelona being Vancouver, is that fair? I would say so. They have a that is very fair. And for those people who can't, can't visualize that a Vancouver is difficult to find a coffee, but really easy to find a dispensary. Exactly. They're not legal but they're plentiful. Um, and uh, so I think it's a bit like that, but what they do have is federal permission so you can actually get a federal license to produce cannabis as a medical product there. You just can't get a state license to actually integrate the cannabis producers in the country. So I think almost every, uh, Barcelona activity point has cannabis kind of like the Canadian ones, which officially comes from nowhere, right? I'm officially officially in Amsterdam. The coffee shops comes from. No officially comes from nowhere.

Speaker 1: So I think you're going to see Spain evolve. They just had a few other things on the burner politically, like a state wanting to separate and stuff. So how does that affect how you go about doing what you're doing? So, uh, we're still federally regulated and the feds had been pretty strong in Spain. So what we're doing is with a federally regulated partner and uh, you know, it'll just out of Madrid, which is not Barcelona, so we can produce the product. We're working through that right now. OK. All right. So it's just a big market that's acting irrationally type of thing. Welcome to the world. Exactly right. So Denmark though that is a kind of a new kid on the block, you know, for, for my ears and eyes, what's happening there has been developing for more than a year. Um, and what's happened is we found a local entity that is integrated with us now to pursue licenses that because of the government and said we want to have medicinal cannabis products in their own country and we want to do trials and we want to move forward.

Speaker 1: And the reason I like it is I think that everybody lives in neighborhoods. So Denmark isn't a neighborhood with a lot of places that I don't expect to stay out of this. Do you mean Nordic countries? Do you think that um, if Denmark does it, it's a long time till Finland or leaving, you know, these are not exactly, uh, countries that stand around and don't make decisions. Uh, OK. W Brazil completely different, gigantic a country. The legislation came through because of the court said you have to give people access a, it's a slow process, but it takes a fixed amount of time in the best way to deal with that is to begin right away. So we've had a couple of companies down there incorporated, had an export to the country and we're working through getting a production license so we can actually tie into research centers and do what you would do in any country that's beginning to wind it up.

Speaker 1: It, uh, any reports of business in, in Brazil. It's always like, well, it's interesting in different there. Yeah. Well, you know, if people will tell you when I was doing telecon you always had to have a local association. I had to set up corporations and it was quite challenging for telephone companies. You can imagine for marijuana company, the, the depth and effort of the paperwork was substantial. But once it's done, it's done. And so we're on that other side now. What are you taking or what did you take from your telecom days beyond what you just said? So I'm from Canada and Canada has had a long history of having really good telecom companies that didn't actually do much business in Canada. They did business everywhere. And so in one of my prior businesses, we did more business with Chevron, Nigeria for five years than I did in all of Canada.

Speaker 1: And so I think what happens is you perceive yourself not as a domestic thing you'd perceive yourself as a required to scale to be anything from when I started this, everything we've tried to do has been about scaling the business and then scaling the business to other geographies. Right? Um, this is not a new thing. It's just the only thing. This is the way, this is what we do, right? That it doesn't matter really what the product is, just have to play by maybe slightly different rules. So I called Denmark a newer kid on the block because I have been hearing about Australia for what seems like forever as far as our cannabis users are concerned. Why is this taking so long? Canada's moved fairly quickly because since 2001, we were the second country in the world that have legalized access to cannabis. You just had to be a patient.

Speaker 1: Right? And people forget that. Yes. And what happens with public policy is if you put a bunch of bureaucrats in a room by themselves with no experience, nothing happens, but when you have from [inaudible] until 2013 and forming what they did with the evolution and we've had subsequent, a couple more evolutions, it means that the public policy and the process is all moved faster. Australia has had none. So they just said, hey, we're going to do this. And what is this? So state by state, they make it more challenging for doctors. Uh, what happens in all the new places, it's, Oh, well, cbd is everything. Well, it's something but it's not everything. Right? And so they're, they're, they're working their way through that. And I think you'll find that, um, it takes about a year to get a year's work done when you haven't had ten years prior experience and that's what we're seeing in Australia.

Speaker 1: It's kind of mysterious or not dog years because we started from zero. Where though geographically New South Wales. That's where you, Sydney is. And is that where the focus is or what are we talking about a, I suspect some of my people who are, I'll call them followers, cause really my principle competitors, the black market, um, but the followers like to listen to exactly what we're doing. So I can't tell you exactly what we're doing, but what you want to make sure is when you go into a country that you're being welcomed by local government, state government and federal government. And so when ours can there, they've done a good job with that and they're based on the furthest place from my house on the planet, which is in, uh, Perth. OK, sure. Yeah. Like if I could bore a hole directly through, I would land exactly in perch.

Speaker 1: So, uh, I've been there once. I also have been there for a second time in this life, but I'm not sure, but we do a lot of board calls by phone and so they're on that side of the country. Fair enough. And thank you for that information. So I guess, you know, I'll just ask this question as a kind of big and open ended question. Um, what am I going to see in 2018 when I open up the computer and then. Oh here's a is another thing with canopy growth here. Oh, he. Bruce is talking about what are you expecting from 2018? So the first time for 2018 is keep buttoning everything down. Be Ready, be ready, be ready, be ready for inventory available packaging available. Have your shipping systems available in the second half of 2018. I think what's going to happen is we're going to go from right now about two hundred thousand Canadians have medical access will probably be about four hundred thousand by next year at this time.

Speaker 1: And the reason is I'm the formats of the product are looking very medical, like we make a uniform Dose Soft Gel gmp. So Pharma Certified Environment, right? And when you detail a doctor with that, that feels a lot more like something they can get on with that's comfortable. So that's growing. And then in the second half of 2018, because it's July first until the day, I think it's July, July first. If I was a politician there's zero chance would be July first. Got It. It's candidate you really want to make a cannabis state like that would be that. That is. That is a way to not get reelected because the imagery might not be awesome. So the only day that it won't happen in July is July first. If I were trying to run for reelection, I would for sure not to do that, but so in the second half of 2018, I think what you're going to find is that we're going to have such curiosity.

Speaker 1: We're going to have three, 4,000,000 Canadians who want to try it. So they got to buy it right? And they're the people who aren't buying it now and it's going to be so normal. You're going to walk into stores that the province to say this is good, the we got here for you, and the feds say we control it, and so there's no. This is not, this is not spookier sideways. It's just going to be a thing and so I think the back half of 2018 is going to be a very interesting because the media. Thank you. Can't they can't print a newspaper on a daily basis if they do not discuss marijuana will read it and so the story frequency is causing people to who never thought they would be interested to be super interesting. Just check it out. At least I am continuing to be surprised.

Speaker 1: I go to social events that have nothing to do with cannabis and people pull me aside. Who you would not expect to say, when can I get some tweet? I, I, I haven't smoked a cigarette in twenty years. I've never, but I want to get some tweet. I'm like, so you're the of the president of the hospital before the event I'm at and you're asking me how to get wheat. Yep. And it's all legit. Unbelievable. That's going to just imagine how that compounds out. Yeah, it's amazing. Three final questions for returning guests. Bruce, what would you change about yourself? If anything? It might be something that you're already working on. What would you change about anything else, if anything, and on the soundtrack of your life on track one song that's got to be on there. That's always the last question. What would you change about yourself, if anything?

Speaker 1: It might be something you already working on. Um, so the first question again is what would you change about yourself if anything might do something we're already working on. I'm like, I just, I'm now over fifty and I'm patient is, you should be when you're nine and I, it's not a great thing. Like I, I just lose my shit so easily for stuff and whatnot and, and I'm really working on it but like I, I, it's, it's still like a really not great part of me. Well, you know, the first step is acknowledgment, right? Was this second, would you change about anything else? If you could, and this is your, so you're omnipotent, you bend the space-time continuum. Anything else I just like, I like rules and I like them to be followed and I'd like them to be, even if you disagree with a rule, as long as it's clear and applied.

Speaker 1: And so I don't care if it's about cannabis, it's about capital markets, everything. And I've always liked that. And so I find that it's, um, a weekly disappointment that rules either exists or poorly written and then unenforced and I don't care what cross what area and it really matters in this space because we're exiting prohibition. You can't do it if you're half breaking rules. Give me the rule, make it clear all and then. OK, great. That's what the rules are on the soundtrack of your life. On track one song that's gotTa, be on there walking on sunshine song. CanNot, I cannot not sorta start jumping around when I hear it. And it's one of those ones that um, I loved it the first time I heard it. And every time I hear it,

Speaker 3: it just makes you smile. Thanks man. Bruce Linton, a man that appreciates roofs and you know, he's kind of setting the rules for the industry with the, uh, forward thinking that he's done with a constellation, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere. Thanks to him. Thanks to you. Stay tuned.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.