Whole Foods CEO Would Like to See Marijuana Sold in Supermarkets

By Paul Gaita 03/15/19

Whole Foods already sells some cannabis-based products like organic hemp seeds and supplements.

CEO of Whole Foods Market John Mackey

John Mackey, co-founder and current CEO of Whole Foods Market, told an audience in Texas that if the state legalized cannabis, he would support efforts to sell it in supermarkets.

Mackey, who was speaking at a staged conversation with the Texas Tribune, said that "chances are good" that grocery stores like his natural and organic food chain, which has more than 450 locations in North America and the United Kingdom, will sell cannabis.

Mackey said that cannabis will hit store shelves depending on "the market and the government regulations."

As High Times noted, Mackey's comments were actually prompted by a question from an audience member about whether insects would ever be offered as an alternative protein source at Whole Foods. Mackey said that he would consider it, before adding his comments about legalization efforts in the Lone Star State.

"If cannabis is ever passed in Texas, chances are good that grocery stores will be selling that, too," he said. "You just never know what happens over time with markets. They change and evolve."

Mackey did not voice an opinion as to what cannabis-related products would be sold at his stores. Whole Foods already sells some cannabis-based products like organic hemp seeds and supplements. Mackey concluded his thoughts on the possibility by stating, "Let's see what happens with the market and government regulations over time."

Legal sale of marijuana is currently restricted in Texas, though low-THC cannabis is available to patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy as part of the Texas Compassionate Use Act of 2015. Three organizations were licensed to dispense cannabis in 2017, per the act's requirements.

House Bill 1365, which was introduced by Texas state representative Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) in February 2019, would expand the Compassionate Use Act to allow treatment for cancer, autism, PTSD and other forms of epilepsy, and would expand the varieties of cannabis available to patients to include oils, tinctures and lotions, but not smokeable cannabis.

High Times also noted that Whole Foods is not the only food retailer to consider stocking cannabis.

The United Bodegas of America has expressed its desire for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow bodegas—the small, independent grocery/convenience stores that are located throughout New York City and other major metropolises—to sell cannabis. 

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.