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Major Brewer Enters the Cannabis Industry

Constellation Brands CEO says that the company could produce and sell cannabis-infused drinks.
October 31, 2017

​NEW YORK – The Wall Street Journal reports that Constellation Brands, distributor of Corona, is investing nearly $200 million in a Canadian marijuana grower, with plans to develop cannabis-infused drinks should the U.S. legalize marijuana nationally.

Constellation Brands Inc. has agreed to a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian marijuana company, and plans to work with the company to develop and market cannabis-infused beverages, per the Journal. The deal puts Constellation in a position to potentially become a market leader in an industry that it believes will become legal across the United States in the coming years.

“We think that it’s highly likely, given what’s happened at the state level,” Rob Sands, CEO of Constellation Brands, told the Journal. “We’re obviously trying to get first-mover advantage.”

Constellation is interested in developing drinkable cannabis products that don’t contain alcohol, Sands added, but also noted that the company has no plans to sell such products in the United States before marijuana is legalized nationwide. However, the products could be sold in Canada, where edible and drinkable cannabis products are expected to be legalized by 2019, or other countries where recreational marijuana is permitted, notes the Journal.

“Wine and spirits are not sitting still, and marijuana is being legalized in many states,” Heineken USA CEO Ronald den Elzen said at a beer wholesalers conference earlier this month. “We have to act now, and we have to do it together.”

Sands told the Journal that he doesn’t view cannabis as a threat to alcohol; however, if a consumer is going to choose a beer, wine, liquor or a cannabis-infused product, Constellation wants to be able to offer all four. “We’re not going to stand around twiddling our thumbs,” he said.