Budweiser Heir Enters Cannabis Industry

Adolphus Busch V—heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune—isn’t betting on beer. Instead, he’s putting his bucks behind legal cannabis with a new marijuana vape-pen company called ABV Cannabis.

“I could take all I learned from my pioneering family heritage and create a new legacy for myself in the cannabis space,” Busch said.

Initially, “the family wasn’t interested” in a college kid’s idea to sling weed instead of six-packs, he admits. Undeterred, the budding entrepreneur spent the next four years at various cannabis companies.

That included two years at Keef Brands, a maker of cannabis-infused products, where he managed a sales team and learned the ins and outs of regulatory compliance, giving him the confidence to strike out on his own.

“Now they see the potential,” Busch said of his beer-brewing elders.

And he’s not the only one: Heir to the Jim Beam jackpot, Ben Kovler, recently took his cannabis company public in Canada.

Whether legal weed is to blame for beer’s sluggish overall sales is unclear. But the reality of Americans’ lagging consumption of beer combined with the growth in the marijuana industry make cannabis an attractive draw for those concerned about the beer industry’s overall health.

A 2015 McKinsey & Company consulting report, damningly titled “A perfect storm brewing in the global beer business,” outlines some of the challenges facing major beer companies which have led to stalled sales: “In the U.S., beer’s largest market, production volumes stagnated between 2007 and 2014. In other key markets such as Germany, France and the UK, they fell by roughly 10 percent over the same period.” People just aren’t drinking as much beer as they used to.

Meanwhile, marijuana looks like a bright and rising industry. It’s understandable that even entrepreneurs from legacy beer-brewing families would hedge their bets with investments in a cannabis industry that could only expand as more states move to legal the plant.