U.S. tobacco company buys majority stake in P.E.I. pot grower

An American tobacco leaf merchant has acquired majority stakes in a P.E.I. licensed medical marijuana producer as well as a cannabis company that is developing indoor growing operations in Ontario.

Alliance One International purchased 75% interest in Canada's Island Garden

Canada's Island Garden has already announced plans for a major expansion. (Laura Meader/CBC)

An American tobacco leaf merchant has acquired majority stakes in a P.E.I. licensed medical marijuana producer as well as a cannabis company that is developing indoor growing operations in Ontario.

Alliance One International Inc., based in North Carolina, announced its subsidiary Canadian Cultivated Products acquired a 75 per cent equity position in Charlottetown-based Canada's Island Garden last month.

The publicly held tobacco supplier said its subsidiary last month also acquired an 80 per cent stake in Goldleaf Pharm Inc., a medical marijuana license applicant which is building a roughly 1,850 square metre growing facility in Ontario.

Alliance One chief executive Pieter Sikkel said the acquisitions, for undisclosed amounts, are part of the company's efforts to branch out into higher-margin, fast-growing agricultural products such as cannabis.

It marks another move by a U.S. company to tap the Canadian cannabis industry as the country prepares to legalize marijuana for recreational use later this year.

In October, Corona-beer maker Constellation Brands inked a deal to acquire a nearly 10 per cent stake in licensed medical marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. for $245 million.