Major tobacco manufacturer Altria Group, with brands including Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal and Black & Mild, has registered in Virginia to lobby for cannabis policy. According to disclosure documents filed last month, the company has hired Elizabeth Rafferty of Williams Mullen to advocate for “responsible and fair regulation of cannabis sales in Virginia.”
Last year, the company also hired the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck of Denver, Colorado, one of the largest in the country, to lobby Congress on federal policies related to CBD and “non-drug taxes,” according to documents obtained by Forbes. To date, Altria has paid $30,000 to lobby the House of Representatives and $50,000 to lobby the Senate on issues related to cannabis taxes and the CBD, according to the data.
The state’s proposal was first reported by Cannabis Wire.
Altria is an investor in the Cronos Group, a licensed Canadian manufacturer in which it invested $1.8 billion in 2018, giving it a 45% stake in the company. Last year, the company applied for two patents for its technology to vaporize cannabis.
Altria spokesman George Parman told Cannabis Wire that the company plans to “work with policymakers and regulators to support a transparent, accountable and fair business environment for the sale of cannabis.”
Although the application was filed more than a month ago, neither the company nor a representative of its lobbying group appeared at a public hearing on the recent legalization debate that ultimately led to the House and Senate each passing a comprehensive reform bill, according to the Virginia Mercury. The bills will be referred to a conference committee, which will develop a draft compromise bill that must be approved by both houses before being sent to Democratic Governor Ralph Northam for signature.
Altria operates Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, John Middleton and STE Michelle Wine Estates and has interests in AB-InBev and JUUL Labs.
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