The owners of the popular beer Corona have invested big into one of Canada’s leading cannabis companies.
Constellation Brands, whose portfolio also includes Svedka, Modelo and many other brands, recently invested $190 million in Canada’s Canopy Growth corporation, according to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. The money gets them a 10 percent stake in a company poised to do very well in Canada’s forthcoming recreational marijuana market.
In a statement announcing the deal, Canopy Growth noted that the strategic investment is “a sign of confidence in Canopy Growth’s reliable track record,” referred to themselves as “the world’s leading cannabis company” and expressed excitement about bringing such a mainstream partner on board.
“In Constellation, we have a strategic ally that will join us as we lead the global cannabis sector into the future,” said Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth’s Chairman and CEO, in the statement. “We have also strengthened our balance sheet to fund the ambitious expansion efforts we’ve announced leading into 2018 – a year that will see unprecedented growth in medical and adult-use opportunities.”
From the prospective of many cannabis activists, such massive investment is only to be expected — and is likely to continue — as the industry grows and becomes more legitimized.
“With the growing success of the legalized marijuana market, it was inevitable that well funded corporations would begin to move in to capitalize on the industry,” said Erik Altieri, NORML’s executive director, in an email to Cannabis Now. “While many large U.S.-based companies may hold off until they are more assured they won’t face federal repercussions, plenty of them are certainly keeping a keen eye on the space.”
Canopy, like their new partners, have many solid brands under their umbrella, and they call themselves the “world leading diversified cannabis brand.” Their largest and most prominent subsidiary company is Tweed. Tweed sells a lot of cannabis — including flower, oils and pills — but according to Canopy Growth, “Tweed doesn’t just sell marijuana, it facilitates a conversation about a product we’ve all heard about but haven’t met intimately yet.” They’re also positioning for a share of the future global market share, really.
Second in their “core brands” is Spectrum Cannabis, Canopy Growth’s international medical brand. Spectrum has a more patient-centric focus than its sister company Tweed. Canopy has taken Spectrum’s protocols developed in Canada and brought them around the world. While not as big a financial home-run as mailing pounds to the European recreational market, in a decade or two, this strategy is going to be sustainable and incredibly profitable. Developing best practices for patients across the board is where things are going with the actual separation of the existing medical and adult use markets everywhere.
In the cannabis space, Canopy had already been working with plenty of its biggest names already, including Snoop Dogg and DNA Genetics.
Constellation isn’t the first beer company to dabble in the cannabis world. World Beer Cup medalist Thorn St Brewery and Jetty Extracts kicked off the terpene infused beer hype last year. Leading craft brewery Lagunitas followed suit earlier this year in a collaboration with Absolute Xtracts. For now, it appears that Constellation has no plans to partner with Canopy on any “Corona & Cannabis” products.
Charlie Alovisetti, senior associate and co-chair of the corporate department at the industry leading cannabis law practice Vicente Sederberg LLC, spoke highly of the portfolio Constellation is buying into to.
“Canopy is among the most institutionally credible cannabis companies, as it trades on the TSX, the leading exchange in Canada, and it has a market capitalization of over two billion Canadian dollars,” Alovisetti told Cannabis Now.
“No other direct cannabis company with the intent of joining the adult-use market comes close to this size,” Alovisetti said.
According to Alovisetti, another contender for the most institutional cannabis company is GW Pharmaceuticals, which also has a market capitalization of over $2 billion and trades on NASDAQ. “But GW Pharmaceuticals does not sell flower or oil to patients; it is a pharmaceutical company that sells a treatment product for multiple sclerosis that is approved as a botanical drug, though not in the U.S. There has been no indication it has any interest in participating in the adult-use market,” he said.
Alovisetti noted that there is currently no American equivalent to Canopy. He also isn’t expecting any such mega-deals in the U.S. until federal laws change and the threat of prosecution is eliminated. “Large institutional companies are not comfortable entering a market when their only protection is an enforcement policy that could be changed quickly and easily,” he said.
As a cannabis activist, NORML Executive Director Altieri suggested that the American cannabis industry should therefore prioritize, while they still can, moving to protect smaller businesses that are more likely to be pushed out of the industry when major funding starts pouring in.
“The pending, and likely inevitable, interest and involvement from major businesses in the legal marijuana industry is precisely why we must ensure to craft regulations that allow for ease of access for average citizens into the market and that promote small business owners and diversity over monopolistic corporate greed,” Altieri said.
TELL US, do you think mainstream investment is beneficial to the cannabis industry?