Marlboro Parent Company May be Entering Marijuana Market


For years, cannabis conspiracy theorists floated images of packs of Marlboro brand joints to illustrate the extent that corporations could conquer the marijuana industry once the drug was legalized. With Monday’s announcement byReuters that Marlboro and Virginia Slims’ parent company Altria is discussing investment opportunities with Canadian cannabis firm Cronos Group, those alarmist tactics have become a reasonable approximation of the future of pot consumption. 

“This is so meaningful because we just think this gets the ball rolling,” Michael Gorenstein, CEO and chairperson of Cronos Group, toldCNN. While Cronos has copped to the fact that it is in talks with the tobacco giant’s corporation, it gave no indication that an Altria collaboration is a done deal. Nonetheless, its stock ended up rising 11 percent by Monday’s end. 

Altria has not yet commented on its interest in Cronos. But there is little mystery surrounding the reasons why it would be looking to expand into the Canadian cannabis market. The company’s shares have fallen 20 percent during 2018. This is largely due to a wide-spread drop in cigarette usage. In the United States, recent studies suggest that adults are smoking fewer cigarettes than ever before—daily cigarette smokers have fallen by 15.5 percent since 2016 alone. 

Cannabis is not the only savior to which the tobacco market is turning. Last week, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Altria is also looking to acquire “a significant minority stake” in prosperous e-cigarette company Juul. Daily e-cigarette users are on the rise in the United States—2.8 percent of the total population, according to some studies.

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