Lucky Strike Cigarette Maker Eyes Cannabis Industry

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In the latest signal that large tobacco companies are eyeballing the potential of the cannabis industry, British American Tobacco—the maker behind Lucky Strike cigarettes—announced that it is exploring options in the cannabis and CBD product markets.

British American Tobacco Chief Marketing Officer Kingsley Wheaton indicated that they are focusing on hemp-derived CBD, but also exploring other options within the cannabis marketplace. “We are indeed going to think about, and we are going beyond, just the tobacco and nicotine space,” Wheaton told CNBC, adding that CBD is an “exciting growth area for our business for the future.”

“It’s a very different regulatory landscape as you go around the world and many markets remain currently inaccessible for regulatory reasons,” added Wheaton. “We draw a very big distinction between CBD and other forms of cannabis,” he said. “We’re interested in CBD. But I think the bigger point is we’re trying to build the portfolio of the future for our business. We’re trying to build the brands of the future. We’re trying to meet consumer needs that smoking used to meet with a new transformed portfolio.”

This comes within days after Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris, announced it will be lobbying to legalize cannabis in Virginia. Altria is behind Marlboro and Parliament brands of cigarettes—some of tobacco’s top products. The company recently purchased a stake in the Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group.

Wheaton’s comments follow an announcement that two cannabis companies are to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, including UK-based Cellular Goods, a company backed by David Beckham.

It’s safe to say that major tobacco makers believe in an imminent seismic shift towards the commercialization of hemp and cannabis cigarettes, or similar products. The same trend has been taking place in the alcoholic beverage industry, as many product makers are exploring alternative options using hemp and cannabis with THC.

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