Altria Poised to Play in Vaporizer Market
Altria Group, Inc., in case the name is unfamiliar, is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, America’s largest tobacco producer. Rumors have circulated for years that “Big Tobacco” is poised to play in the cannabis industry as soon it is legalized federally.
Tobacco companies have denied this in tantalizingly careful language. “We’re not in that business, ”and, “[w]e never speculate on what our future plans may or may not be, ” according to a 2010 interview with David Sutton, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at Altria. However, Altria’s acquisition of the domain names AltriaMarijuana.com and AltriaCannabis.com is telling if not dispositive.
The play for tobacco companies may not be marijuana, however. It may be the delivery system. Altria’s current interest in e-cigarettes may position it well to participate in the segment of the market that focuses on marijuana vaporization. This is one of the few methods, for example, by which medical marijuana may be consumed in New York. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for investors may depend on whose stock you hold.
The big tobacco companies, including Altria, Lorilliard and Reynolds are all active in the e-cigarette business. Earlier this year, Altria moved in a big way with its acquisition of Green Smoke, Inc., through its subsidiary, Nu Mark LLC. Green Smoke (yes, we can pause for irony) has sold e-cigarettes in the U.S. and Israel since 2009.
For some time, marijuana smokers have recognized the adaptability of the e-cigarette technology. All it takes is a pair of needle nose pliers and a cannabis cartridge to drop in for the nicotine cartridge. It is hard to be cool with a pair of pliers in your pocket, though. How much easier would it be to buy your multi-purpose vape pen ready to go?
Market for Vaporization
Many recommend consuming marijuana through vaporization, rather than smoking, especially for medicinal purposes. Physicians cite benefits including fewer toxins, less irritation to the lungs, faster relief, better dosing control and fewer side effects, leaving patients feeling clear-headed and functional after vaporizing.
Were it to become known for producing high quality, low price vaporization technology, the tobacco industry might even have the opportunity to clean up some of the stain caused from years of dubious tobacco health claims. That may be a stretch and may take more than another name change. Nonetheless, the market is huge.
New York’s estimated annual medical marijuana retail sales market alone may amount to as much as $1,487.72 million and total annual market, including recreational sales could be as much as $3,601.14 million. Total nationwide market may top $58 million. This suggests a lot of vaporization equipment.
Focusing on the delivery system may be a smart move for tobacco companies eyeing the potential of legalized marijuana. That is all cigarettes were, in the first place. It may suggest a parallel move for individual investors with no stomach for Big Tobacco. For inventors and tech developers, it is always good to keep an eye on the competition and the potential for investment whether it comes from within the green industry or from giant investors who, until now, may have seemed very much on the outside.
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