Public Health Experts Fret Over Big Alcohol’s Cannabis Push

Article by The Leaf News

Public health experts fret over big alcohol's cannabis push FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2014 file photo, a Diageo employee walks by barrels of whiskey stored in a new warehouse at the George Dickel distillery near Tullahoma, Tenn. Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey scored another round of U.S. sales growth in 2014, while exports topped $1 billion for the second straight year. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)

The cannabis world is buzzing with word that yet another major alcohol company wants to buy into Canada’s legal cannabis industry.

Even if you’ve never heard of Diageo, you’ve probably sipped their products — famous alcohol brands like Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan and Tanqueray all belong to the publicly-traded, U.K.-based company.

Now, BNN Bloomberg reports that Diageo is in talks with “at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a possible deal.” Diageo’s move follows a major deal between alcohol giant Constellation Brands and cannabis giant Canopy Growth, plus a product development tie-up between brewer Molson Coors and cannabis firm Hydropothecary.  Canadian cannabis stocks moved higher today as investors bet on a merger or buyout.

But the alcohol industry’s entrance into cannabis is more than just a business story. Some public health experts are worried about what the growing relationship between big booze and corporate cannabis means for society as a whole.

“Absolutely we’re concerned when corporate interests and the profit sector get overly interested in any product that can have negative consequences for the consuming public,” said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

“It’s concerning because the motivation is for profit, not preserving peoples’ health… These companies have extensive experience marketing these products, not always in the most ethical manner, and they have very deep pockets from their alcohol divisions to be able to pour into campaigns and marketing efforts to promote their specific products,” he said.

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