Could Big Alcohol Take Over the Cannabis Industry?


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  • Dan O’Neil, former Molson-Coors CEO, now on the board of Cannabis Investment Company
  • Constellation Brands invested nearly $200 million in Canopy Growth
  • Is this the beginning of the Big Alcohol’s takeover of the Cannabis Industry?

With the future of the Cannabis Industry looking blindingly bright in both the U.S. and Canada (especially Canada), beer and liquor CEOs would be foolish not to get involved.

In a recent interview conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, former Molson-Coors CEO Dan O’Neil claims that alcohol company’s involvement in the cannabis industry is inevitable.  O’Neil himself is getting involved, as he has recently joined the board of CannaRoyalty, a Canadian cannabis investment company.

When posed the question “Is Cannabis a threat to Alcohol?”, O’Neil responded with, “For sure – once it’s legalized. The growth potential for cannabis companies is the same as that of alcohol after prohibition ended.”

Take this into perspective; one-hundred years ago alcohol was treated nearly the same as marijuana currently is (ignoring the medicinal aspect).  Now, alcohol is as normalized as anything in our culture, almost a part of our history as a nation. In one-hundred years will Marijuana be accepted and admired in our culture as Americans, just as alcohol is?

Constellation Brands, a major alcohol company owning Svedka, Corona, Modello and other popular brands, seems to think so. Back in October 2017, Constellation Brands invested nearly $200 million in Ontario based grower and distributor Canopy Growth.  Constellation bought a 9.9% stake, with the option to purchase another 10%. Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton announced that by 2019 the two plan to release THC infused beverages to market.

This partnership seems to be the first of many to come, as Molson-Coors is even reportedly in contact with cannabis companies behind the scenes.

The main reason big alcohol companies will have to get involved? Market similarities.  These companies are beginning to see that as marijuana is becoming more accepted, and legal, that they will lose large chunks of their market share.  The saying “if you can’t beat em, join em” comes to mind here.

“When you’re talking about brand development, product quality, marketability, there’s a huge ability to segment the market by age and benefit. There will be cannabis brands associated with events in your life (like there is with beer),” O’Neil noted. The similarities between the markets for both industries are undeniable: the age of consumers, the social aspect of both substances, the social right of passage associated with both, and the distinctive culture that surrounds each.

Overall, it seems we are still witnessing the beginning stages of the involvement of major Corporations like Constellation Brands, and it is safe to say that we will see more follow suit as the Cannabis industry expands.

Check out the full Marijuana Business Daily Interview Here

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