Lagunitas Brewing Founder Says Marijuana Will Be Much Bigger Than Craft Beer

For Americans, beer is as American as a hot dog or football. But according to one craft beer expert, marijuana may become more important.

Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas Brewing, told members of the cannabis industry that a Budweiser executive who compared marijuana to craft beer was way off. Why? Because marijuana is going to be much bigger.

“I think (cannabis) is going to be way, way, way, way bigger,” Magee said.

Craft beer sales amounted to a little over $23 billion in 2016. In that same year, marijuana generated around $6.6 billion. With more states legalizing the drug, it's easy to see cannabis eclipsing craft beer in only a few years.

Magee also talked about the many lessons the cannabis industry can learn from craft beer. Starting in the 1990s through the 2000s, the number of craft breweries in the United States exploded. And after that boom, many of the beer giants swooped in and either invested or bought the smaller craft brewers. 

Laguintas was sold by Magee to Heineken only a few years ago.

“It’s not the same as selling out … it was the necessary step not for today, but to prepare ourselves for the world coming 10 years from now,” Magee said. "You need a big brother."

Of course, many small-time marijuana companies are worried that larger companies will end up dominating the cannabis industry in a few years, but Magee's speech implies that wouldn't necessarily be the worst thing. He noted that larger businesses who have a stake in the cannabis industry would be more inclined to put pressure on Washington to legalize the drug.

And with people inventing cannabis beers, we may see a blending of these two industries a lot more in the future.

(h/t Cannabist)

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