OAKLAND – There’s no question cannabis is a booming business with plenty of people seeking their slice of the pie. In a capitalist society such as ours, it’s to be expected that the world’s top Fortune 500 companies would be among those hoping to cash in on the so-called “green rush.” In the wake of a growing social acceptance of cannabis, especially as a medicine, mainstream brands are exploring the possibilities, with some already diving in (we’re looking at you Constellation Brands and Garnier).
Opinions on the corporate behemoths entering the cannabis space, a community once hidden in the shadows, remain mixed. Some view the injection of institutional capital as an unfair advantage due to an overall lack of traditional funding methods for the majority of cannabis operators. Others feel having big business involved is a good thing since it further legitimizes the plant and increases research.
One of the latest conglomerates looking into the plant is 3M, makers of over 24,000 products including everything from sponges to Post-It notes to furniture protectant. The company recently revealed it was researching the potentials of hemp in a variety of applications. They believe it could be used in adhesives, packaging, and even as an aid in tissue growth.
Don Davidson, 3M’s Global New Product Marketing Manager, appeared at the online National Hemp Symposium earlier this month, where he shared more about the company’s research and development. Davidson said the sustainability factor was a key factor in 3M’s work.
“We can incorporate (hemp) into a lot of 3M technologies and products,” he told the crowd according to a report by Hemp Business Daily.
“Pretty much all across the board, regardless of if it’s a consumer or they’re industrial, health care, transportation or energy, they’re asking for more sustainable solutions.”
Stephen Eigenmann of Enviro Goods, a hemp apparel company, was in attendance at the Symposium and listened to Davidson’s presentation. He questioned the motives of 3M’s plans due to their damning environmental record but remained hopeful in the company’s good intentions.
“Are they really getting involved in the life cycle of the plant or are they just trying to utilize the amazing benefits of the plant to their advantage?” Eigenmann wondered.
“(Hemp) can help repair toxic soil and damaged land, so I’d like them to take a full 360-degree approach in order to reconcile some of the damage they caused in the past.”
British American Tobacco (BAT), another large-scale corporation looking to enter the market, is under equal scrutiny. Fears of cannabis becoming another Big Tobacco are real in the industry, particularly among legacy operators. The Lucky Strike makers recently announced their own research into the space, honing in on the CBD sector as an additional revenue stream.
“We’re interested in CBD,” Kingsley Wheaton, the company’s chief marketing officer, told CNBC. “But I think the bigger point is we’re trying to build the portfolio of the future for our business. We’re trying to build the brands of the future. We’re trying to meet consumer needs that smoking used to meet with a new transformed portfolio.”
Whether or not either of these companies pull the trigger on cannabis and hemp remains to be seen, but with consumer interest in the plant piquing, it’s extremely likely they will. It can only be hoped they will do so in the true spirit of what cannabis represents — peace, love, and harmony.