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Diageo reportedly exploring cannabis deal in Canada

Johnnie Walker maker Diageo has declined to comment on reports that suggest it is preparing to move into the cannabis market in Canada.

Drinks giant Diageo could be about to enter the cannabis market

The world’s largest distiller has reportedly been in talks with three producers for a potential investment or collaboration to make cannabis-based drinks, according to BNN Bloomsberg.

One executive told BNN a deal may take months, while another said a deal may be close.

Last month, Diageo said at the company’s financial media briefing that it was “monitoring” the development of the cannabis sector in North America.

At the briefing, Dan Mobley, Diageo’s corporate relations director, said the cannabis sector in North America was “still very early days”.

A Diageo spokesperson told The Spirits Business: “We never comment on speculation. As we’ve said before, we are monitoring this space closely.”

In June, the Canadian senate passed a bill that will see recreational cannabis use legalised at a nationwide level.

Canada’s legalisation of recreational marijuana has attracted wide interest from the drinks industry.

New York-headquartered Constellation Brands was one of the first movers, purchasing a minority stake in Canadian cannabis supplier Canopy Growth Corporation in October last year. The group recently invested an additional US$4 billion into the firm – the largest investment in the cannabis industry to date.

North America’s largest drinks distributor, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, also became the first drinks distributor to move into cannabis distribution.

Earlier this year, Beam Suntory’s CEO said the group is “keeping a close eye” on the cannabis market.

In the latest issue of The Spirits Business magazine, we explored the potential threats legal cannabis presents to the spirits industry.

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