In the coming years, major consumer-facing cannabis brands could arise as more states pass medical and recreational marijuana laws and the industry grows.
And one Wall Street guru thinks he knows which companies will be behind these brands.
“Who’s going to be the Budweiser of marijuana? My guess – they would all deny it – would be cigarette companies,” Gerry Sullivan, head of the Vice Fund, predicted in an article by Reuters.
In fact, Sullivan said the Vice Fund – which invests in risque industries such as gambling, guns and alcohol – will keep strong positions in tobacco companies partially for this reason.
Cigarette companies could indeed be positioned well to enter the marijuana industry, and many cannabis professionals have long feared an invasion by Big Tobacco (and Big Pharma).
But it would likely take a significant change on the federal level before this happens. Mainstream corporate giants, such as those in the tobacco industry, would need a clear sign from the government that they could participate in the marijuana sector, likely through new legislation and a reclassification of the drug.
And cigarette companies have shown little interest in the cannabis industry, at least publicly.
Still, there’s no question they are keeping an eye on the situation, and cigarette heavyweights are likely having internal discussions about how to get involved if and when the government changes its position.