PMI is looking at options to venture into the cannabis industry. Executive Officer Andre Calantzopoulos had recently told Bloomberg that the company has started assessing factors such as the toxicity of cannabis, efficacy and differences between pharmaceutical and consumer options. He added that the company is still analyzing the industry given that it’s still in its infancy.
“We are doing all this work and will determine one day what avenues to pursue,” he said in an interview. “But our priority is what we’re doing with our smoke-free products, and that’s where I would stay on cannabis.” Back in 2016, PMI had invested $20 million in Israel-based Syqe Medical which developed a medical cannabis inhaler. However the deal was not directly tied to marijuana products, and was more intended to secure the exclusive global rights to technology for high-precision dosing for smoke-free tobacco products and nicotine applications.
Big tobacco moving towards cannabis
On the other hand, in 2018, tobacco giant Altria had announced that it would be discontinuing its vape devices and Verve nicotine gum, in order to instead invest 1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group Inc. The latter is the fourth most valuable publicly listed marijuana company, with a total valuation of about $1.9 billion.
Similarly, in 2018, Britain’s Imperial Brands had invested through its venture arm in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a cannabis-focus biotechnology firm, and in 2019 it announced an investment of C$123 million for a 19.9% stake of Canada-based Auxly Cannabis.