Weed is the new craft beer, says ex-Budweiser exec

A former Budweiser marketing executive has drawn comparisons between the burgeoning trade in legal cannabis and the craft beer industry, believing weed could one day be as popular.

The cannabis industry was worth $6 billion in 2016, and is forecast to reach $50 billion by 2026.

Chris Burggraeve, 52, Anheuser-Busch’s former CMO, is on the advisory board of GreenRush Group, a San Francisco-based startup that bills itself as “the Amazon of weed” and connects buyers to dispensaries and delivery people in California and Nevada.

That company plans to expand its concept to New York and Massachusetts soon, while Burggraeve is also a co-founder of Toast, a company that produces pre-rolled joints.

“The same way that craft beer started and, for the longest time, was ignored and then exploded, there’s no reason why the same thing wouldn’t happen in this space,” Burggraeve told Bloomberg. “There will be part supplementing and part complementing. The jury is out on how and where that will happen.”

Recreational marijuana use is currently legal in eight US states, and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana use, while 21 states allow it for medicinal purposes. Recreational use of cannabis will be made legal in California on 1 January 2018.

The cannabis industry was worth $6 billion in 2016, and is forecast to reach $50 billion by 2026.

“This is one of the fastest-growing categories globally,” Burggraeve told Bloomberg. “Why? Because people want it. When consumers want something, you ignore it at your peril.”

Burggraeve’s comments follow Constellation Brand’s recent foray into the cannabis industry, having bought a 9.9% stake in Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp for £141 million with the intention of producing cannabis-infused drinks.

Canopy Growth is the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis company with a market value of £1.3 billion. Chief executive Rob Sands believes cannabis will eventually be made legal for recreational use in all American states, and has stated that Constellation wants to be ahead of the game.

However rather than developing cannabis wine or marijuana beer, according to the WSJ, Sands plans to make alcohol free cannabis drinks like sodas, coffees and fruit –based drinks.

Cannabis drinks are expected to be made legal in Canada as early as 2019.

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