Phillip Morris, the world’s biggest cigarette producer, announced today that they will join the marijuana legalization bandwagon and start producing marijuana cigarettes. Marketed under the brand “Marlboro M”, the cigarettes will be made available for sale through marijuana-licensed outlets in the state of Colorado, and the state of Washington when it becomes commercially legal there later this year.
Serafin Norcik, Phillip Morris’ Sr. Vice President for Marketing said in an interview that the company has been high on the idea of marketing cannabis, and has been monitoring the market for some time. It was only when the recent legalization initiatives — winning in Colorado and Washington — that they finally made the decision to take a leap of faith.
Norcik added that they have begun contacting former drug lords in Mexico and Paraguay, currently the largest marijuana-producing countries in the world, for the possibility of setting up a distribution ring across the North and South American continents, to streamline the supply lines.
Since only tobacco products are currently banned in advertisements and promotions in the United States, Phillip Morris also has set aside a huge $15 billion advertising budget just to promote the new “Marlboro M” and are now negotiating with major networks and publishers, to start marketing the product to consumers in the beginning of 2015.
Norcik also revealed that a big initial push is planned around January next year, and have acquired most of the ad airtime for Superbowl XLIX. However, since marijuana will be legal only in Colorado and Washington during the 2015 Superbowl, all the ads will be blacked out in all other States and will only show a static “M” logo with smoke blowing in the background, for the duration of the ad.
Phillip Morris shares hit an all-time high on the marijuana news and shot up to $420.00 from $83.03 just a few hours after the announcement went public.