Marlboro cigarette maker places a $2.4-billion bet on marijuana

Marlboro инвестировала в выращивание конопли

Cronos first announced that it was in talks with Altria this week.

FOX Business breaks down other companies that have eyed investments in the cannabis industry below.

The biggest companies have avoided investing in US cannabis businesses, which are legal in a handful of states, because of the federal prohibition on the drug.

The investment is a 45% stake and Altria could pay another $1.4 billion for warrants that would increase its stake to 55% over the next five years.

The investment will give Altria a foothold in the growing world of legal cannabis alongside drinks giant Constellation Brands and distributors like Southern Glazer's, which entered the cannabis distribution market through its Great North Distributors earlier this year, and Breakthru, which formed an exclusive distribution partnership with CannTrust in September.

Marijuana, while still illegal on the federal level in the U.S., is allowed in an increasing number of states.

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The agreement allows Altria to nominate four directors to Cronos' board of directors, including one independent director.

On Tuesday, conservative Utah became the latest state to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes.

Willard called Canada a trailblazer in the cannabis space. The move will help it tap into a customer base outside cigarette smokers, as cigarette smoking declines in the U.S. Aurora Cannabis Inc. rose as much as 11 percent, Canopy Growth Corp. climbed 7.3 percent and Tilray Inc. gained 5.5 percent.

— There are a handful of companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange devoted exclusively to cannabis, either for medicinal or recreational use, or both: Canopy Growth Corp., Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Cronos Group Inc.

As well, USA tobacco leaf merchant Alliance One International said its subsidiary acquired a 75 per cent equity stake in Charlottetown-based Canada's Island Garden in January. Molson Coors Canada owns a 57.5 percent interest in the joint venture.

Altria will acquire 146.2 million Cronos shares at a price of CA$16.25 per share, representing a 41.5% premium to the 10-day average price ending November 30, the last unaffected trading day before Cronos publicly disclosed discussions with Altria.

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