American Alcohol Distributor Invests in Canadian Marijuana Producer

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Sep 10, 2018

Breakthru Beverage Group, an alcohol wholesale/distribution business led by the chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, on Monday revealed plans to invest $9.2 million in CannTrust, a Canadian marijuana producer, and to become the company’s exclusive distributor in Canada.

What the group will distribute was not entirely clear from the news release, which talked only of recreational marijuana. Other American and Canadian spirits companies have invested in Canadian cannabis companies with the intent to develop adult beverages based on cannabis.

CannTrust’s announcement did note, “We have a nano-technology that enables us to produce cannabis-infused beverages neutral in taste, and clear as water. This technology will position us to be a leader in Canada, and in future markets globally.”

After a series of acquisitions, Breakthru claims to be “the largest Canadian beverage alcohol broker of premium spirits, wine and beer brands.” It will “invest in the establishment of a cannabis-focused sales brokerage company and develop a route-to-market platform for CannTrust in Canada, effective when the adult-use recreational market opens Oct. 17."

Breakthru follows Molson Coors and Constellation Brands in investing in the Canadian cannabis market, although both of those companies specifically mentioned developing and selling cannabis-infused drinks in Canada.

The Chicago Tribune got hold of a letter Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, who is co-chairman of Breakthru Beverage, sent to employees, where he explained: “To us, this venture is a strategic business decision, not reflective of any personal feelings but instead, focused around an opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping a socially-responsible model for this emerging market.”

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