The company behind Marlboro cigarettes is in talks to invest in a Canadian cannabis producer as it looks to cash in on the recent legalisation of the drug in Canada.
Altria is one of the world’s largest tobacco companies and the owner of the Marlboro brand.
Cannabis producer Cronos confirmed the talks after reports that Altria was set to acquire it.
Last night it said: “It is engaged in discussions concerning a potential investment by Altria Group in Cronos Group. No agreement has been reached with respect to any such transaction and there can be no assurance such discussions will lead to an investment or other transaction involving the companies.”
Any deal would mark one of the most significant investments in the cannabis sector by a traditional tobacco company.
Canada legalised recreational marijuana in October and legalised medicinal marijuana in 2001.
In June, London-based tobacco company Imperial Brands acquired a stake in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies.
Constellation Brands announced a $3.8bn (£2.98bn) investment in Canopy Growth in August, while Coca-Cola said in September it was watching the space for alliances that could potentially help it develop products containing cannabinoid oil.
Altria’s shares have fallen by more than 20 per cent over the year, as cigarette smoking continues to decline in the United States. Federal data from earlier this month showed cigarette smoking among US adults reached an estimated 14 per cent in 2017, the lowest level ever.
Altria has invested in the e-cigarette sector in recent years through its Nu Mark subsidiary.