“The single biggest validation by big industry that we’ve seen in the [cannabis] sector.”

This is how Marc Lustig of CannaRoyalty describes Constellation Brands Inc.’s recent move to take a 9.9 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp and start developments for a Canadian cannabis beverage.

The U.S. distributor of Corona made the announcement of the $191 million deal earlier this week, with chief executive Rob Sands telling The Wall Street Journal: “we’re obviously trying to get first-mover advantage.” 

Lustig, the CEO of CannaRoyalty – a fully integrated investor and operator in the legal cannabis sector, headquartered in Ottawa – says the significance of this news can’t be overstated.

“Clearly it’s a huge vote of confidence when a global, multi-national, brand-focused company makes that size of an investment into the cannabis sector,” Lustig tells Civilized.  

“In terms of progress and validation for the sector, this is right up there with various government policy-driven announcements like Canada’s federal legalization or changes within state policy in the U.S.”

Lustig pinpoints two “very strong messages” that this announcement should signal to investors. Chief among them is the essential role that prominent brands will likely play in the cannabis industry going forward.

“One takeaway from this investment is how important brands are to the future of this sector ... Take Corona, for example. Do you know the farmers who grew the hops that went into the beer, or do you know ‘Corona’ – and the reliable [taste] you get each and every time you buy one [at home] or halfway across the world?” says Lustig.

“At earlier stages in the industry, I think investors were taken with the cultivation aspect. Canadian licensed producers were the ones receiving the capital and the interest. I think that now, with the Constellation Brands investment, it’s really going to be hammered home for investors how important brands are within the final product segment.”

The other major takeaway from this announcement, according to Lustig? This is likely just the beginning of a new wave of investments from major non-cannabis companies.

“Investors have been hearing from people like myself within the cannabis sector that all these industries – like tobacco or beverages or pharmaceuticals or biotech or delivery devices or nutraceuticals – were watching the sector. But until now, there hadn’t really been an investment of this size from one of those types of companies,” he says.

“I think this is going to open the floodgates of investment from some of those other sectors, which is very strong validation of how intertwined the cannabis market is to all those different business areas.”

Constellation Brands Inc. has said they are interested in developing cannabis-infused beverages without alcohol. The company is eyeing Canada – which is expected to legalize edible cannabis products by 2019 – as an initial market.