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Weed As The New Craft Beer? This Bud’s For You

Another move for big beer into greener pastures: a former Budweiser exec has turned his attention to cannabis.

Chris Burggraeve, who left his post as chief marketing officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev (which brews Budweiser), is invested in two cannabis ventures. He tells Bloomberg he’s joined the advisory board of San Francisco startup GreenRush Group, which wants to be the Amazon of weed. He also co-founded luxury cannabis brand Toast, which makes pre-rolled joints.

In October, Constellation Brands, (which brews Corona) agreed to take a nearly 10 percent stake in a Canadian marijuana company. 

Says Burggraeve:

The same way that craft beer started and, for the longest time, was ignored and then exploded, there’s no reason why the same thing wouldn’t happen in this space. There will be part supplementing and part complementing. The jury is out on how and where that will happen.

The parallels between beer and weed are many. Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told Beer Advocate that there is a strong cultural link between craft beer and marijuana “and it’s called baby boomers,” he said. “The people in this age group grew up smoking pot and don’t view it as a hard drug. Craft beer has largely been led by baby boomers.”

Ron Lindenbusch, chief marketing officer at Lagunitas Brewing Company, told Beer Advocate that the connection between the rise of craft beer and how one views legal weed can be traced back to the end of Prohibition. He notes that in states where craft brewing was adopted early and marijuana is legal, lawmakers are more open-minded — a reflection of their constituents.

Burggraeve says the  is just the beginning, telling Bloomberg, “This is one of the fastest-growing categories globally. Why? Because people want it. When consumers want something, you ignore it at your peril.”

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