Constellation Breaks Pot Taboo, Opens Door for Major Brands – Bloomberg

Beer and weed could be a good mix for companies that sell both.

The decision by Corona beer seller Constellation Brands Inc. to buy a minority stake in a Canadian pot company marked the first major foray of an alcohol brand into the nascent weed industry. With the taboo now broken, other purveyors of beer, wine and spirits may look for similar opportunities in the expanding world of legal pot.

Brewers and distillers such as Molson Coors Brewing Co., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Diageo Plc and Pernod Ricard SA may already be examining the marijuana space, according to beverage-industry analysts. Constellation’s move only intensifies the competitive pressure.

“There’s a threat on the horizon that if they don’t get into the game, they’re going to be left behind,” said Jason Zandberg, an analyst at PI Financial in Vancouver.

Constellation, based in Victor, New York, agreed to pay about C$245 million ($191 million) for a 9.9 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian seller of medicinal-marijuana products. The deal kicked off the biggest rally in nearly a year for Canopy, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker WEED.

Among its peers, Constellation has taken a more progressive stance on weed for quite a while. Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands said in November that the company was keeping an eye on potential cannabis investments. 

Molson Coors said Monday that it was continuing to monitor marijuana developments in the U.S. and Canada.

“We’ll leave it to policy makers to figure out those hard questions with respect to cannabis,” said Colin Wheeler, a spokesman for Molson Coors. “In the meantime, we’re focused on our portfolio of beer and cider brands.”

Anheuser-Busch and Diageo didn’t immediately have a comment on Constellation’s investment. Pernod Ricard declined to comment.

“Big alcohol could be a very positive bedfellow for the cannabis industry,” said Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, which sells tools for growing cannabis crops.

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Constellation Breaks Pot Taboo, Opens Door for Major Brands – Bloomberg

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