Phillip Morris could use cannabis in his new line of “Beyond Nicotine” products

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Multinational tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris International recently announced that it was investigating the possibility of getting involved in the legal weed industry.

Last week, Philip Morris CEO Andre Calantzopoulos told Bloomberg News that cannabis was being considered as a potential element of his new “Beyond Nicotine” strategy. Now that global cigarette sales are declining, the tobacco company plans to add botanical sleeping pills, energy-saving and calming products to its range of products. And while the company has not yet finalized those plans, cannabis could fit that picture well.

“We are doing all of this work and one day we will determine which paths to take,” Calantzopoulos told Bloomberg. “But our priority is what we do with our smoke-free products, and that’s where I would stick to cannabis.”

Five years ago, Philip Morris invested $ 20 million in Syqe Medical, an Israeli company that has just developed the first cannabis micro-dose inhaler ever to receive international regulatory approval. At the time, Philip Morris was only interested in making smoke-free nicotine delivery devices using Syqe technology. But now that the new cannabis inhaler has been approved for use in Canada, the tobacco giant is taking a fresh look at the legal weed industry.

Philip Morris is only taking its first small steps to investigate the legal weed market, but other cigarette companies have already thrown serious coins into this new industry. In 2018, Altria, best known for making Marlboro cigarettes, spent $ 1.8 billion to buy a 45 percent stake in Cronos, a Canadian cannabis company. Since the acquisition, the company has filed two patents for weed vapes and hired a lobbyist to advocate for the regulation of CBD products in Congress.

In March of this year, British American Tobacco (BAT), maker of American Spirit, Camel, Newport and other tobacco products, bought a 20 percent stake in Organigram, another Canadian cannabis company. With this $ 175 million deal, BAT Organigram becomes the largest shareholder. The company has announced that it will focus its initial efforts on bringing new CBD products to market.

The interest of large tobacco companies in the legal weed industry has grown so rapidly that Congress took note of it. Chuck Schumer’s new bill to legalize cannabis is reportedly set to contain provisions designed to prevent massive alcohol and cigarette companies from dominating the U.S. cannabis market.

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