Tobacco giant Altria is lobbying on cannabis sales in Virginia, Cannabis Wire has learned. This marks the first time the company has lobbied on cannabis in the US, either at the state or federal level.
The company is specifically registered, as of last month, to lobby on “issues Related to the Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Cannabis Sales in Virginia for Altria Client Services LLC and its Affiliates — Philip Morris USA Inc., John Middleton Co., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., and Altria Summit LLC,” according to a Cannabis Wire analysis of lobbying disclosure registrations.
While the company is currently focused on Virginia when it comes to cannabis lobbying, it supports national legalization.
“Altria supports the federal legalization of cannabis under an appropriate regulatory framework. As a stakeholder in this industry we intend to work with policy makers and regulators in support of a transparent, responsible, and equitable operating environment for the sale of cannabis,” Altria spokesperson George Parman told Cannabis Wire.
“This is essential for both Altria as an industry stakeholder headquartered in the Commonwealth and for our diverse employee base who, as community stakeholders, are dedicated to making Virginia a great place to live and work.”
The company, which is headquartered in Henrico County, just outside of Richmond, Virginia, is already involved in the cannabis industry through its significant stake in the Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group.
Altria was also the first major tobacco company to lobby on hemp at the federal level, as Cannabis Wire first reported in 2019. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp in the US, catalyzed the hemp and hemp-derived CBD industries. As tobacco farmers have struggled, there’s some interest in smokable hemp, though, as Cannabis Wire has reported, not all state lawmakers are on board.
Altria also has sizable stakes in Anheuser-Busch InBev, a drink and brewing company located in Leuven, Belgium, and the e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs.