It’s inevitable that marijuana will be decriminalized the US, says CEO of $43 billion alcohol company

The politics around cannabis are shifting rapidly towards legalization, Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands, whose company has a major stake in marijuana producer Canopy Growth, told CNBC on Thursday.

In fact, the 2018 midterm elections could be pivotal for the legalization of cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, a component of the cannabis plant that is not psychoactive and widely used in medical marijuana products, Sands said.

“We expect [CBD] to become legalized potentially as soon as shortly after this election because there’s a provision in the farm bill that will actually legalize CBD, the non-psychoactive component,” Sands told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview.

Sands, whose alcohol distributor boasts popular brands including Corona and Modelo, said Constellation will work with Canopy on non-alcoholic cannabis drinks that resemble beer, champagne, spirits, water and tea.

“I think you’ll see a lot of beverages introduced, probably non-alcoholic or in, I would say, most cases, non-alcoholic, to take advantage of at least the CBD legalization,” the CEO said.

And while products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, could still be several years out from hitting U.S. shelves, Sands said the political scene was becoming more accepting to the idea of what could be a several hundred-billion-dollar industry.

“THC-containing cannabis, that’s going to be some time off, but I would say that the political front is developing very quickly there,” he told Cramer. “In the United States, we believe that it’s an inevitability that cannabis will be decriminalized at the federal level. And, as we already know, a lot of states have legalized it recreationally.”

Beyond that, Constellation’s stake in Canopy allows the beverage producer to “play in” international markets that have moved faster on cannabis legalization than the United States, Sands said.

“You shouldn’t lose sight of the international opportunity. There’s huge countries — UK is looking at medical legalization. Germany has already legalized medical marijuana,” the CEO said. “These are all places, given our Canopy investment, that we can play in. We think it’s important to be able to play in all channels and in all segments, not just beverages and not just recreational.”

Shares of Constellation Brands surged 5.38 percent on Thursday after the company reported earnings well above Wall Street’s expectations and raised its full-year forecast. The stock settled at $222.10 a share.