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Photo by Bramblz/ via Flickr

industry | 01.01.2022

Tobacco companies are making some suspicious investments in weed

Tobacco companies like Alliance One International and Philip Morris International are making investments and taking steps to get into the cannabis industry.

As more states join the legalization movement the fear that big tobacco will swoop in to take over the industry is looking less like a paranoid conspiracy and more like a matter of time. Joining the international green rush, tobacco companies have already begun to transition from their widely demonized product to something that is growing more acceptable and the most recent indications are the major investments announced this month.

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The canopy of a marijuana crop is seen at Alternative Solutions, a DC area medical marijuana producer, April 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

American tobacco contractor and supplier Alliance One International revealed in a press release that their Canadian subsidiary, Canadian Cultivated Products, has purchased 75 percent of stock in PEI based medical marijuana producer Island Garden.

The move was part of an expansion into ‘fast-growing agricultural products’ the company’s CEO told CBC. Last month, the company also purchased the majority shares (80 percent) in Goldleaf Pharm Inc., an Ontario medical marijuana company currently awaiting approval of its license.

Alliance One seems to be preparing itself for legalization as the Canadian government is set to allow recreational sale and cultivation nationwide in the summer of 2018. But it’s also made some moves in its home state of North Carolina.

In December, it purchased a large portion of shares in a CBD pilot program known as Criticality acquiring 40 percent of the company with the option to raise its ownership to 50 percent in two years according to New Cannabis Ventures.

Tobacco companies have been eyeing the cannabis industry for some time, but have yet to fully enter the industry as it remains federally illegal in the United States. Still, marijuana’s gray market status hasn’t stopped industry giants from positioning themselves to enter the industry once it becomes legal.

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Marijuana Growing At Los Suenos Farms As Colorado’s $1-Billion Pot Industry Saves Towns
A recently developed marijuana cigarette is displayed for a photograph at the Los Suenos Farms facility in Avondale, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. About 938 dispensaries, which outnumber Starbucks in Colorado, in 2015 yielded $135 million in state taxes and fees, 44 percent more than a year earlier.  Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As The Blinc Group points out, Imperial Tobacco recently changed its name to Imperial Brands likely because the company plans to expand into the cannabis industry. One major indicator is a recent shakeup in their board of directors bringing on Simon Langelier who chairs the Canadian medical cannabis company PharmaCielo.

Also on the investment front, Philip Morris International (PMI), one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, have invested $20 million in Israeli’s Syqe Medical which has developed a cannabis inhaler approved for medicinal use in Israel.

According to a report from Cannabiz Journal  PMI also holds a patent (Patent US20080281135A1 ) for GMO technology which can increase terpene production in cannabis plants, indicating that the tobacco giant might one day produce some pretty potent medical cannabis.

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Photo by Daryl Clemons/ via Flickr. Sourced from Canna-Base.com

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