Southern Glazers will handle cannabis products through Great North Distributors

Southern Glazer's will handle cannabis products through Great North Distributors

Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits has become the first alcohol distributor to enter the North American cannabis market, creating a cannabis subsidiary in Canada ahead of the country's full legalisation of the drug.

Great North Distributors will distribute cannabis products across Canada from the first day of legal adult-use sales, which is expected to be later this year, Southern Glazer's said today. Its first client will be Canadian adult-use cannabis manufacturer Aphria, which has announced an exclusive agreement with Great North. 

The establishment of Great North suggests that cannabis distribution will run along similar lines to alcohol distribution, though the two categories will be kept separate under most of the laws set up by Canada's provinces to regulate the sale of the drug. It also gives Southern Glazers, the biggest wine and spirits distributor in North America, a foothold in the continent's nascent cannabis market, estimated to be worth about US$9bn last year, according to Arcview Market Research.

Those same estimates predict high growth potential - eight US states have already legalised the recreational use of marijuana, but others are expected to follow.

Doug Wieland, GM for Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits Canada, said: "Our decision to become the first beverage alcohol distributor to facilitate the legal distribution of cannabis in Canada reinforces our innovative, first-mover position in the industry."

Is cannabis here to stay? Constellation Brands has the US$191m answer - Click here for a just-drinks comment

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