If you've been observing the enthusiastic welcome that legal pot has been getting from the business and investment community, you -- like Motley Fool Money fan Philip -- may have been wondering: Why is it that the giant companies that already specialize in turning plant products into smokable commodities haven't made serious moves into marijuana?
Well, as podcast host Chris Hill and senior analysts Ron Gross, David Kretzmann, and Jason Moser discuss in this segment from Motley Fool Money, Big Tobacco is apparently beginning to do just that, with Altria considering taking a minority stake in Canadian pot player Aphria.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Oct. 12, 2018.
Chris Hill: Question from Philip Green, who writes, "There's been a lot of talk about investments being made in cannabis companies from outside the industry. Do you think tobacco companies are looking at cannabis legalization as a strategic opportunity? Seems to me that there would be fewer logistical hurdles on the part of these companies that already grow and distribute a variety of leafy products." David, what do you think?
David Kretzmann: Philip called it. This week, it was rumored that Altria is looking to invest in a Canadian cannabis producer, Aphria is the name that keeps coming up as far as the producer they're looking at within Canada. I think the biggest question here is, why did it take so long? It's been almost a year since Constellation Brands first invested in Canopy Growth. They reupped that investment in a huge way in August. Along the way, you have more and more of these multinational companies getting more comfortable with the legal framework of the legal cannabis industry in Canada and elsewhere. You have Coca-Cola, Diageo, PepsiCo, all mentioning that they're at least keeping an eye on it, exploring potential partnerships with cannabis companies in Canada.
But I think this is a testament to the fact that these companies are getting more comfortable with the idea that the U.S. federal Government won't intervene with these kinds of deals. So far, Constellation Brands hasn't dealt with any legal headwinds, at least from the U.S. government. It's probably an indication that these companies expect full federal legalization of cannabis to happen in the U.S. sooner than later.
Hill: If you're on the board of directors at Altria, and you see Coca Cola and Pepsi are kicking the tires on this industry, yeah, you have to be wondering why you're not.
Kretzmann: Yeah. And you also have to take a step back and realize that per capita cigarette consumption, at least in the U.S., has been cut in half since 2000. There are clearly headwinds when it comes to tobacco use. Cannabis is potentially a healthier alternative to get a similar high and fill the gap that is being lost with cigarettes.