Marlboro manufacturer Altria is reportedly in talks with Canadian cannabis grower Aphria to acquire a stake in the company.
Executives at Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, have had several meetings with the cannabis grower according to reports.
The Globe and Mail said the tobacco giant was initially looking to acquire a minority stake with the intention of later becoming a majority shareholder.
Aphria confirmed that it engaged in discussions with “potential strategic partners and/or investors from time to time” but added that there was “no agreement, understanding, or arrangement in place with a potential investor at this time.”
The talks were revealed a week before the legalization of cannabis came into effect on October 17.
According to Bloomberg intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea, the tie-in would work as both an offensive and defensive strategic move for Altria.
Shea wrote: “A deal would make Altria a participant in the emerging growth of legal cannabis products in Canada and internationally and establish a critical partner upon possible US federal marijuana legalization.”
Altria are not the first tobacco company to venture into the cannabis industry. Imperial Brands teamed up with alcohol producer Constellation Brands and Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital venture firm in June to invest in medical cannabis research.
For more, see issue one of Vapouround Canada, coming soon.