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Tobacco Companies Secure With Legal Marijuana

While the U.S. tobacco industry is still worth more than $90 billion, the declining popularity of its traditional products may push companies to get into the legal marijuana market.

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Tobacco companies have raked in considerable profit over the decades. They continue to do so. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed, “Although U.S. tobacco production has decreased significantly since the 1980s (from nearly 180,000 tobacco-growing farms to about 10,000 in 2012), the United States continues to be a leading producer of tobacco leaves.”

In 2015, U.S. tobacco companies more than 264 billion cigarettes — which is more or less the same amount sold in 2014.

Current Trends

Bloomberg Gadfly columnist Tara Lachapelle observed that while the U.S. tobacco industry is still worth $90 billion-plus, they have to face “the reality that their products — at least the traditional kind, cigarettes — are losing popularity.”

Lachapelle pointed out that apart from producing e-cigarettes, tobacco companies need to have “a more sustainable growth plan.” She then went on to say, “Lucky for them, a gigantic industry will soon be up for grabs: marijuana. There is a potential $45 billion of annual demand for recreational weed in the U.S. More and more states are moving toward allowing its sale, which will only build pressure on the federal government to legalize it. And that will open the door for the big tobacco companies to seize the marijuana market.”

Trevor Hughes — in his USA Today article “Will Big Tobacco become Big Marijuana?” — discussed the apprehensions of the small operators selling legal marijuana. Hughes wrote, “Many fear that tobacco companies, with their deep pockets, longstanding experience dealing with heavy government regulation, and relationships with generations of farmers will jump into the burgeoning marijuana market.”

An Inevitable Move?

While many pundits assert that Big Tobacco companies should set their sights on the legal marijuana market, making the initial move involves some delicate maneuvering and timing.

As Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky said, “Tobacco companies have never said publicly that they’d like to get in on the marijuana business. That’s understandable. Selling marijuana is still largely illegal in  U.S. and in Europe…but they have long watched marijuana as a potential market.”

To date, there are 24 states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. They are the following:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. Hawaii
  8. Illinois
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Michigan
  13. Minnesota
  14. Montana
  15. Nevada
  16. New Hampshire
  17. New Jersey
  18. New Mexico
  19. New York
  20. Oregon
  21. Pennsylvania
  22. Rhode Island
  23. Vermont
  24. Washington

Out of these 24 states, four have likewise legalized recreational marijuana use: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Bershidsky had pointed out that tobacco companies already have the capacity to move into the legal marijuana market. “They already have distribution systems, marketing machines, industrial facilities to make marijuana cigarettes and package cannabis for use in vaporizers, patented designs for the vaporizers themselves, research laboratories (and possibly even a head start on commercial product development) and, last but not least, cash resources,” he said.

In fact, he added, “Licensed tobacco sellers already dispense medical marijuana in a number of states.”

Then again, tobacco companies — who are already subjected to strict government regulation and taxes — have to deal with the added scrutiny if they move into the legal marijuana market.

However, that doesn’t mean that these companies will back off the legal marijuana market. They already seem to be going in that direction anyway.
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In “Why Big Tobacco is interested in marijuana,” Oscar Pascual wrote, “Big Tobacco now hopes to bridge the gap between marijuana through buying out e-cigarette vaporizer companies.”

In a USA Today article, Derek Peterson — president and CEO  of Terra Tech, a California-based company that makes hydroponic greenhouse equipment for both traditional and marijuana growers — confirmed Pascual’s assertion, saying, “We’re a mass-produced society, from the food we eat to the television we watch. Ultimately, big alcohol or big tobacco is going to come into this space. I just can’t imagine that won’t happen.”

Projections and Predictions

CNBC.com features editor Heesun Wee, in her article “As legal US cannabis sales soar, start-up reality sets in,” observed that start-up companies in the legal marijuana market are experiencing some difficulties. She revealed, “But entrepreneurs in the weed trade, despite landing in hot markets like Colorado, face a bit of a reality check. That’s due, in part, to a lack of traditional financing tools like banking, and still growing stream of venture capital into the industry.”

These are the kinds of challenges that tobacco companies can easily weather. Wee wrote, “The forecasts for legal U.S. cannabis sales are in the billions.”

Citing the findings of ArcView Market Research and New Frontier, Wee highlighted the fact that “if California voters in November approve adult cannabis use through statewide ballot measures, analysts forecast California’s total marijuana market for both medical and adult use could reach $4 billion by 2018 — more than double the size of the expected $2.5 billion Colorado market.”

In an article published on Slant, “Why the marriage of marijuana and Big Tobacco is inevitable,” Darragh T. Roche stated, “It’s hard to judge the exact market for cannabis, but estimates put its value somewhere between $10 billion and $40 billion, with other estimates claiming the marijuana industry could be worth $100 billion. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise big business wants legalization.”

 

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Business

RetailMeNot’s Five to Buy in February

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RetailMeNot's Five to Buy in February
Image via Shutterstock

The wintry temps may make you cold, but February deals are sure to warm your heart. It’s not only a great time to shower your valentine with roses and gifts, but it’s a great time to make other smart and timely purchases as well.

The shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, Sara Skirboll, agrees. “With the biggest football game of the year, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day on the horizon, retailers will offer tremendous savings on a variety of categories — from TVs and TV dinners to all of your Valentine’s Day needs.

1. Play Cupid

With Valentine’s Day this month, shoppers might be struggling to find the right present that symbolizes their love. You can never go wrong with a customized gift made especially for them. This month, shoppers looking to go the extra mile for their loved one will save an average of 40% on items like personalized photo albums, picture frames, wall art and more. You name it, they make it — and just because it’s customized doesn’t mean it will break the bank. Turn to retailers like Shutterfly who is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive for 28% off your regular priced purchase.

2. Ding-Dong Deals

While some might make dinner reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town, many will opt to eat at home. Those who do can take advantage of special promotions and discounts. In fact, diners can save an average of 30% off all month long, so be sure to search the food delivery deals from RetailMeNot. Right now, DoorDash is offering 25% off your first purchase and Postmates is offering $15 delivery credit for existing users.

3. Flower Power

Everything’s coming up roses! According to a recent RetailMeNot survey, 46% of shoppers plan to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day this year, up from 34% in 2019. Many florists will be offering promotions and discounts to help shoppers prepare for the holiday. This year, retailers like 1800Flowers are having up to 40% off flowers & gifts and FTD is offering a RetailMeNot exclusive offer for 20% off sitewide.

4. Get Your Game On

Attention sports fans: Discounts on electronics are not strictly reserved for Black Friday! In fact, February is the second-cheapest time of year to buy a new TV. With the big game right around the corner and March Madness close behind, manufacturers will use those big-time events to highlight big savings on big-screen sets. Another reason for the markdowns is that new models will be released next month, so retailers will be looking to make room for new inventory. Shoppers in the market for a new TV should head to Samsung where they can get 10% cash back with RetailMeNot, and Best Buy where they can find up to 64% off clearance items.

5. Meet Your (Price) Match

Life can easily get in the way of finding “the one,” but online dating sites and convenient mobile apps are here to help. Those looking for love are in luck: Dating sites can offer up to 75% off enrollment fees to encourage singles to put themselves out there. Dating sites like eHarmony are offering 35% off all subscriptions and OkCupid is offering free membership.

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Arts

Shutterstock Announced as Official Photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards

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shutterstock 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards
Shutterstock Announced as Official Photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards (Photo: PR Newswire)

Shutterstock, Inc., a leading global technology company offering a creative platform for high-quality content, tools and services, today announced that it has been renewed as the official photographer of the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards, which recognizes the very best in film over the past year. As the official photographer of the show on Sunday, February 2nd, Shutterstock’s on-site entertainment photographers, editors and engineering team will deliver exclusive high-quality images from the event at the Royal Albert Hall in London to the world in less than one minute from the image being taken.

Shutterstock’s editorial team captures, edits and distributes celebrity portraits and candid images leveraging proprietary software optimized for speed to market. As the moments from the red carpet, inside the awards show, and at the after-parties are captured, Shutterstock’s team makes lightning-fast crops and edits and transmits them directly to the desks of photo editors, writers and media. This speed-to-market empowers Shutterstock’s editorial customers to keep up with today’s fast news cycle to quickly deliver their news stories.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with BAFTA, an arts charity whose purpose of celebrating and supporting the best work and talent in film, games and television is closely aligned with Shutterstock’s,” said Candice Murray, Vice President of Editorial at Shutterstock. “As a company whose passion is rooted in creativity, it is always an honor to be selected to shoot and share these unique moments recognizing the industry’s top creatives from around the world at the BAFTAs.”

“Shutterstock is best equipped to provide the world’s media with high-quality images of our awards ceremonies and year-round program through their advanced creative platform,” said Claire Rees, Photography Director for British Academy of Film and Television Arts. “Our partnership has grown over the years and as Shutterstock’s technology and service continue to evolve, we continue to see greater results in amplifying the mission of BAFTA around the world.”

Shutterstock’s annual partnership with BAFTA, a world-leading independent arts charity, originated in 2013 and includes editorial photography coverage of the Television Craft Awards, Games Awards, Television Awards, Young Game Designers Competition, Scotland Awards, Cymru Awards and Children’s Awards.

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Business

Amazon Profits Surge as Investment in Faster Shipping Pays Off

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Amazon Profits Surge as Investment in Faster Shipping Pays Off
Image via Shutterstock
By Dominic Rushe

Amazon’s massive investment in faster shipping paid off for the tech company over the Christmas holidays with record sales and four times as many customers taking advantage of its free one-day shipping offer over the shopping season compared with last year.

Amazon is spending billions making one-day shipping the default for its Prime members and the gamble helped drive its revenues up over $87bn for the final quarter of 2019, or $29bn a month, compared with $72.4bn in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Profits increased to $3.3bn in the fourth quarter, up from $3bn in the same period last year, after a fall of 25% from July to September due to its costly shipping investments. Amazon’s shares shot up over 10% in after-hours trading.

“We’ve made Prime delivery faster – the number of items delivered to US customers with Prime’s free one-day and same-day delivery more than quadrupled this quarter compared to last year,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

Amazon’s bumper Christmas – the best in its history – came as other retailers including Target, Macy’s and JC Penney have reported lower sales.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing business, reported revenues of $9.9bn for the quarter, up 34% from the year-ago period.

Amazon also gave an update on its number of Prime subscribers, who pay an annual fee for faster shipping and access to free content on its streaming media services. Bezos said the company now has over 150 million paid Prime members around the world, up from 100 million last April.

Amazon’s share price has lagged its tech giant peers in recent months as investors have worried about its spending. The latest results push the company back into the exclusive club of tech companies now valued at over $1tn including Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft.

Copyright © 2020 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.

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