Altria rumored to be in talks to buy Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group

High in Henrico.  Henrico County based Altria, makers of Marlboro cigarettes among other products, is rumored to be interested in buying Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group.  Altria is refusing comment while Cronos said it “confirmed that it is engaged in discussions concerning a potential investment by Altria Group … in Cronos Group.”  Cronos went on to say that no agreement had been reached and there is no assurance that the discussions will lead to a deal.

Is that really a maple leaf on the flag?  Canada legalized possession of marijuana nationally effective October 17, 2018.  Under the national law provinces have some latitude regarding specific cannabis regulation.   In Quebec and Alberta, the legal age is 18; it’s 19 in the remainder of the country for example.  However, unlike the United States, there is no dichotomy between national and provincial (state) law.  There can be no doubt that this legal clarity is encouraging companies like Altria to consider entering the Canadian marijuana market while sitting on the sidelines of American states which have legalized grass.

Implications for Virginia.  Pot legislation and the business of selling pot is moving quickly in North America.  In November Michigan became the tenth US state to legalize possession of marijuana.  There is legislation pending for the 2019 General Assembly session to decriminalize marijuana in the Old Dominion.  Now an iconic and politically connected Virginia-based company apparently sees no moral or ethical issue with participating in Canada’s legal marijuana market.  Given that Altria’s board includes Virginia luminaries such as Thomas F Farrell, CEO of Dominion and John T Casteen, former President of UVA one wonders if Altria’s plans might lend respectability to marijuana reform in Virginia.

I smell refund.  In 2018 a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana (SB 111) was defeated along party lines in the Courts of Justice.  Nine Republican state senators voted against the bill.  Over the years all nine have received campaign contributions from Altria.  Given that these nine politicians see marijuana possession as a serious crime one would hope they will return these campaign contributions given that Altria is trying to engage in marijuana production, distribution and sale.  After all, is it moral to keep money contributed by a company engaging in practices you think should be illegal?  Here are the amounts (per VPAP):

Obenshain – $44,250
Norment – $128,433
McDougle – $58,000
Stuart – $8,500
Stanley – $9,500
Reeves – $28,265
Chafin – $1,500
Sturtevant – $8,000
Peake – $500

— Don Rippert

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4 responses to “Altria rumored to be in talks to buy Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group

  1. Thank you, DJR, for pointing out yet again the enduring relationship between political money and political mouths. Especially when hedonism is involved.

  2. Good Lord – LOOK at the MONEY! At least we know who is providing it!

    But what do these guys actually spend it on? If I recall, in Virginia, it does not have to be spent on only elections. Do we know how it is spent?

  3. Yes, Larry, we know who provides the money – addicts using a deadly product, with the profits now being invested in development of yet another market for an addictive and dangerous product.

    No, Larry, the reporting only gives you a good idea but not often total clarity on how it is spent. Most goes to advertising, election staff. But those amounts (Rippert was not crystal clear on this) cover multiple years and elections. Several of the people he points to have other tobacco interests in their districts, not just Altria/PM and its suppliers. The argument that they are now bound to support Altria’s efforts to move into the marijuana business is just the usual sophistry.

  4. Absurd. These nine throwbacks don’t care that 70+% of Virginians support decriminalization. This is such a matter of morality that these nine can spit in the face of a significant majority of Virginians and say, “our morality counts more than the citizenry we were elected to represent and and we have spoken.”

    This isn’t a minor loophole in the tax code. This is nine Republicans bucking the will of Virginians. Why would they do that on anything other than moral grounds?

    Now, if it’s a moral issue and they have been receiving funds from a company that plans to engage in this immorality … what should they do? If Omega Protein suddenly came out in support of abortion on demand with no questions asked – would the conservative Republicans who line their pockets with Omega’s money still take the payola?

    If you are morally opposed to something you ought to forgo contributions from any person or organization engaged in that immorality. If you are an elected official not morally opposed to something and a majority of adults in your state want something … you should yield to the will of the people.

    You can’t have it both ways – sufficient moral outrage to block even a full senate vote on something you know your fellow Virginians want but insufficient moral outrage to stop taking money from Virginia based companies engaged in the pursuit of that outrage.

    Phony baloney Republicans – apparently the only kind which exists in Virginia.

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