Tobacco giant Philip Morris eyes marijuana market opportunities

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Multinational tobacco company Philip Morris International reportedly is analyzing the marijuana industry for its market possibilities but hasn’t yet determined its next move.

The New York-based cigarette maker told Bloomberg News that it is looking at the potential pharmaceutical and consumer plays and assessing such factors as cannabis benefits and risks.

“We are doing all this work and will determine one day what avenues to pursue,” Chief Executive Officer Andre Calantzopoulos told Bloomberg in an interview.

“But our priority is what we’re doing with our smoke-free products, and that’s where I would stay on cannabis.”

Philip Morris invested $20 million five years ago into Israeli company Syqe Medical, a then-startup that has since developed an inhaler that allows medical marijuana and other therapeutic products to be delivered in precise doses.

But Marlboro-maker Philip Morris was looking more at the time at smoke-free nicotine delivery to reduce health risks. Philip Morris hasn’t ventured specifically into the cannabis space.

Meanwhile, other tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco and Altria Group have taken stakes in marijuana companies. Philip Morris spun off from Altria in 2008.

Philip Morris indicated at its investor day in February that it also is looking at potential market opportunities of wellness products that help people sleep, calm anxieties and boost energy, Bloomberg reported. Cannabis could fit in some of those categories.