After Constellation Brands’ mega-deal with Canopy Growth and Molson Coors team-up with Hydropothecary Corp. to work develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages, industry observers are wondering who could be next. While there is some speculation that Big Tobacco and Big Pharma are going to make moves into the adult-use marijuana market, tobacco companies carry so much baggage after deceiving the American public for so long and pharmaceutical companies bring the fear that their involvement could shut down state medical programs. I think that alcohol businesses will continue to be the go-to mainstream companies investing in cannabis. The Financial Post covered the industry speculation:

Greg McLeish, analyst at Mackie Research Capital Corp., said there has been some data showing that alcohol sales have declined in U.S. states where marijuana has been legalized, and mentioned Diageo Plc as a company who may be interested in tackling the cannabis quandary. BNN Bloomberg reported Friday that the U.K.-based liquor giant was “pursuing a deal” with a Canadian cannabis company and had held discussions with at least three producers.

“The most logical ones are always alcohol, tobacco and pharma, but we could see a consumer products company come in and sort of say this is a growing market space beyond potential drinks, including CBD and other cannabinoids,'” McLeish said.

McLeish also said there have been some signs that CBD, the non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant, could be a good fit for sports recovery drinks, as it has some anti-inflammation and pain-reducing properties.

And while the Oct. 17 date for Canada to legalize cannabis is creeping closer, it may not necessarily be a deadline for dealmaking. McLeish noted that provinces are still preparing their retail infrastructure and predicted some companies will have challenges supplying either good quality product or product in general.

Big corporations’ involvement have the pluses and minuses as they will likely help end prohibition faster, but we must always remain vigilant to ensure that barriers to entry allow smaller craft companies to compete. Tobacco companies bring a lot of political baggage that could hurt the legalization cause, in my humble opinion. Pharmaceutical companies can actually help get medical cannabis products to patients in prohibition states, but we must ensure that state medical programs remain. Rest assured, we haven’t seen the last of big business interests moving into the cannabis industry, and with legalization cutting into alcohol revenue, it only makes sense that beer, wine, and spirits companies will join an industry that they realize they can’t beat.

Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and network with top investors and entrepreneurs at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, this September 27th-28th. Get your tickets by September 12th to save $200!