Tobacco giant Altira is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. That will give Altria a 45% stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55% over the next five years.
Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25% this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1% this year and in 2019.
"Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria," said Howard Willard, Altria's CEO, in a statement.
"Altria is the ideal partner for Cronos Group, providing the resources and expertise we need to meaningfully accelerate our strategic growth," said Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein in a statement.
Gorenstein added that Cronos will use the investment from Altria to expand its distribution and infrastructure around the world and also boost its investments in research and development for new brands and products.
Cronos and other cannabis stocks have been thrust into the spotlight in the past few months following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada in October, as well as legalized recreational and medical pot in several US states last month.
Many alcoholic beverage, tobacco and other consumer products companies may want to bet on cannabis.
But Coke shot down the talk in October. CEO James Quincey said the company "doesn't have any plans at this stage" to enter the CBD market.