With Canada legalizing cannabis nationally on October 17th and more states poised to legalize either medical or adult-use cannabis this November, we will start seeing even more major corporations make inroads into the cannabis industry. Big surprise: corporations follow the money. Already, Corona-owner Constellation Brands and Molson Coors have already announced major moves into the cannabis industry, and there are reports that Coca-Cola is considering a similar move. According to Food Business News, a recent consumer survey demonstrates why corporate America is investing in cannabis-people want to use legal marijuana in a variety of way:

A consumer survey published by the consultancy A.T. Kearney shows consumers understand there is more to cannabis than just its psychoactive elements. More than 75% of the consumers surveyed said they are aware that cannabis has non-psychoactive components that may be perceived as health benefits, and consumers are most likely to try “therapeutic cannabis” in foods (55%), vitamins (50%), and skincare products (43%).

The survey included responses from 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 Canadian consumers who had an awareness of cannabis. It was released just before the Canadian federal government is scheduled to make the consumption of recreational marijuana legal on Oct. 17.

***

The A.T. Kearney survey also delved into consumer perception of “recreational cannabis.” More than half of the U.S. and Canadian respondents said they would try recreational cannabis if or when it becomes legal. In Canada, the initial regulatory framework will only allow the smoking of cannabis, but approximately one year after legalization the Canadian government will finalize regulations regarding the sale and consumption of edible products.

As CNN Business covered, corporations can benefit from diversifying into the cannabis industry, without negative consequences:

Randy Burt, a partner in the consumer goods and retail practice of A.T. Kearney, said the increased interest in cannabis on the part of big business makes sense considering the results of his firm’s survey.
After all, nearly 40% of the participants said they would have an improved perception of a company if it were to become involved in the cannabis business.
“It seems like there would be little backlash if companies introduced products with CBD,” Burt said. “Consumer companies have to factor in the potential risk to their reputation and brand name but there may be less risk than once thought.”
“It could be very smart for consumer companies to be adding cannabis products to their portfolio,” Burt added. “It’s important to have a cannabis strategy.”
While it can be intimidating to many to see major corporations moving into the cannabis industry, corporate America maneuvering into the marijuana market can provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and mom-and-pops. For one, corporations in the United States will be slowly transitioning into the cannabis industry, and as they do, the mainstreaming of marijuana can help small businesses find the right investor or partner ahead of the entry of big-money interests. Just the fact that major corporations are looking into the cannabis industry is a sign that the United States is moving closer and closer to ending prohibition. Savvy businesspeople ahead of the curve will have the opportunity to capitalize either with their own cannabis business, or an ancillary business that caters to the needs of the industry and consumer community.
Network with top investors and entrepreneurs at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on February 7-8, 2019. Don’t miss the chance to learn the latest from the top professionals in the industry. Get your tickets by January 18th to save!