Tobacco company Altria is lobbying at the federal level in the US on “matters pertaining to hemp,” according to lobbying disclosures for the second and third quarters of 2019.
Though Altria’s involvement in the cannabis industry is widely known—the company acquired a 45 percent stake worth $1.8 billion in the Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group this year—it’s the first big tobacco company to lobby on hemp at the federal level.
Last December, President Donald Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp in the US. The hemp and hemp-derived CBD industries have been booming, particularly in states like Kentucky, where tobacco farmers have struggled.
And today, the US Department of Agriculture is scheduled to make an announcement on its Hemp Production Interim Rule, one of the last steps in the department’s months-long process of finalizing regulations that will determine the future of the hemp industry.
(Catch up on Cannabis Wire’s hemp coverage here.)
Altria also invested close to $13 billion in e-cigarette company Juul last year in exchange for a 35 percent stake in the company. Juul has faced a backlash due to vaping-related lung illnesses that have been reported nationwide. Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns stepped down in September and was replaced by Altria’s former chief growth officer, K. C. Crosthwaite.
(Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the vaping crisis here.)
Altria did not respond to requests for comment by publishing time.