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The maker of Marlboro cigarettes is muscling in on the marijuana market

Altria Group Inc., the US maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is moving into the pot sector, paying $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in Canadian cannabis firm Cronos, according to reports from Bloomberg.

In the US, legal ambiguity over marijuana use makes domestic wheeling and dealing too risky for many national and multinational businesses. But north of the border, the newly legal weed market is open for business—and Altria is the latest company to make a move to Canada, joining other companies such as liquor giant Constellation Brands.

For Altria, once known as Phillip Morris, it’s an opportunity to get comfortable in a nascent market and position itself for the potential national legalization in the US. With cigarette sales plummeting, now can hardly be a bad time to diversify, and the company is reportedly also in talks to invest in vaping startup Juul.

For Cronos, as the company said in a press release, Altria’s long history in the industry means it offers “product development and commercialization capabilities, and deep regulatory expertise.” In the meantime, Altria is paring back some of its tobacco alternatives, discontinuing vaping products MarkTen and Green Smoke, with the objective of focusing on other “more compelling reduced-risk tobacco product opportunities.”

While Marlboro-branded “weed cigarettes” are not in the pipeline, the news comes after nearly 50 years of speculation to that end. As far back as the late 1960s, Business Week reported tales through the “underground grapevine” of major cigarette companies lying in wait of legalization “so they can start producing grass-laced smokes.” Those in the know alleged that names such as Acapulco Gold and Tijuana Gold were already copyrighted in anticipation, while an unnamed cigarette company had bought up swathes of pot-appropriate farmland in Louisiana, Mexico, and Central America.

A few months later, however, letters to the Rolling Stone editor from key players in the tobacco industry sought to put the record straight. ”Rumors about the cigarette industry’s involvement with marijuana are as persistent as they are false,” said a spokesman for the Tobacco Institute. The then-president of now-defunct tobacco company Brown & Williamson was clearer still: “We are unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and therefore disclaim any activity which would remotely involve marijuana.” The times, they are a changin’.

Tobacco giant Altria is making inroads into the world of legal cannabis, buying a 45% stake in Canadian pot company Cronos.

Philip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ Brand Marijuana Cigarettes Now For Sale In Four U.S. States

Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska residents are celebrating the release of Phillip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ Brand Marijuana Cigarettes available next month for recreational use. The world’s largest cigarette producer, announced today that they will join the recreational marijuana bandwagon and begin the sale of marijuana cigarettes in these 4 U.S. states beginning November 1, 2015.

This product is marketed under the brand “Marlboro M” and will be available for sale through marijuana licensed outlets.

Serafin Norcik, Philip Morris’ Senior Vice President for marketing said in an interview, “Our company has been high on the idea for marketing cannabis and has been monitoring the market for some time. We have finally made the decision to take the leap and support these states in their right to legalized recreational marijuana use.”

Currently the law limits the purchase to only one pack at a time. Prices start at $89 per pack. You must be 21 years or older to purchase and must provide a photo ID. Any resale of the Philip Morris Marlboro “M” Brand Marijuana cigarettes is subject to fines and jail time according to local laws.

Philip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ Brand Marijuana Cigarettes Now For Sale In Four U.S. States Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska residents are celebrating the release of Phillip Morris Marlboro ‘M’