The beverage company that owns several brands of wine and beer including Corona and Modelo just gained 38% ownership in the Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth. In order to acquire this much ownership of Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer, Constellation Brands made a record-breaking investment. The owner decided to drop $3.8 billion in order to establish his company in the cannabis community before Canada’s recreational sales begin and before that sector of the economy explodes. He believes like many other cannabis consumers and businessman that the time for federal legalization in the United States is also quickly approaching. Robert Sands is confident that Canopy growth has market-leading capabilities that will allow them to expand and build their company across international borders.
This nearly $4 billion investment by an alcohol company is clear evidence of the culture change we have and currently are experiencing in both the U.S. and Canada. If this kind of thing were to happen just ten years ago it would have been considered shocking and extremely risky. Ten years ago there wasn’t even a Canopy Growth Corp. operating in Canada. Although medical cannabis laws have been in place in the country since 2001, recreational legalization didn’t pass until this year. Also, the U.S. hardly had any laws regarding medical cannabis besides a few select states which were mostly out west. The market was in early development and did not have the legal protections or the enormous customer base that continues to grow over time. Many still think that shifting focus away from the lucrative alcohol sector that Constellation brands worked so hard to build is questionable even at this point in time. There still is no guarantee that legalization won’t hit more roadblocks and get delayed for years. Nobody knows for sure if Canopy Growth will be successful in expanding its operations into a new country with established medical and recreational companies.
This move has to be extremely exciting for Canopy Growth’s point of view. With an enormous boost in capital, it should be able to maintain it’s status as the largest cannabis company/producer in Canada. Canopy also has stated they will not grow or distribute any of their products until it is legal at all levels of the government. They will not be dealing with individual states that have passed laws allowing recreational or medical cannabis. They are playing it safe and trying to remove any possibility of liability. This may have an impact on their ability to establish themselves in the United States and other countries because other companies may be willing to take the risk and build their business behind the security of state or local laws. However, with the type of cash they now have access to, they might be able to enter late and still be successful. They would still have a strong reputation from their presence in the north and use that as a sales point for new customers who aren’t aware. Another result of this investment is that Constellation will now be able to select four of seven directors for the company. Management positions are going remain the same for Canopy Growth for the time being. When news of Constellation Brands acquisitions first broke the stocks for the Canadian company rose 31.3%. I’m hoping that everybody has made their investment before Robert Sands did.
As things stand right now, private corporations across the country in states with or without legal weed are drug testing applicants and current employees for marijuana. This is not required by law but instead has been a common practice among businesses since the drug war was launched in the 1970’s. Even when states began legalizing the herb for medical and recreational purposes, things have remained the same. There may have been a decrease in the number of employers testing for marijuana or other drugs, but it’s still very common. A large reason for this is insurance companies refusing to provide service to businesses unless they make a considerable effort to maintain a drug-free workplace. Even though there is evidence showing the ineffectiveness drug testing has had on workplace safety, tradition has trumped information.
It was exciting to hear that on July 26th a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress called the “Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act”. If passed it would prevent the government from denying employment to new employees or punishing existing employees for a positive THC drug test given that the cannabis use is legal in that state. Civilian government employees cannot be punished as long as the use was outside of the workplace. The only other exception to the bill is that positions requiring a high-security clearance are not barred from testing for the drug. This would be an enormous positive change for the entire country because many private companies would likely follow suit and stop testing for the drug as well. Also, I’m sure there are a ton of recreational/medical marijuana users who have passed up an opportunity or never considered working for the federal government due to their marijuana use. The government has been notorious for its strict policies on cannabis use citing its schedule 1 status under federal law. My mother and other people I know who are civilian employees have been randomly drug tested and went through a thorough background check to ensure there’s no history of drug use or other criminal activity.
The fat-soluble nature of THC is what allows the government and companies to be able to detect its use. Essentially all other drugs that are known to man exit the body in a much shorter period of time. For example, meth is only detectable in urine for around 72 hours. One long weekend and you’re good to go back to the office on Monday after a tweaked out Friday night. Heroin and Cocaine are the same way. It seems the hard drugs are eliminated by the body much quicker as if our body is flushing them out for our own well being. With marijuana and other drugs, detection times will vary from person to person due to an individuals metabolism among other factors. Marijuana metabolites are stored in fatty tissues and are slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of days or weeks. If this weren’t the case there would be little reason to drug test employees. It would be much harder for those who use other drugs to be detected by an upcoming drug screening. The effectiveness of workplace drug testing would be further questioned and likely eliminated shortly after marijuana is no longer tested for.
Allowing government employees to use cannabis on their own free time could benefit the employer as well. It gives them a much larger list of qualified applicants to choose from and likely a better candidate for the position. Outside of new employees, existing employees may decide that using cannabis to relax and unwind is a much more effective than alcohol. Having access to a safer alternative could help prevent work-related problems caused by alcohol abuse. Also, employees won’t have to hide their use from co-workers and will be less hesitant to build stronger relationships with the people they work with. Those suffering from medical conditions that interfere with their effectiveness on the job would be able to find relief without turning to prescription medication that comes with a long list of side effects. The list of positive results from a bill like this passing could go on forever and I can’t wait to see the workforce begin to openly accept the cannabis community.