The boss of spirits giant Pernod Ricard has revealed that he and his rivals are studying the legalised cannabis market, as the drinks industry weighs the drug's leisure potential.

Alexandre Ricard, who runs the Beefeater gin and Havana rum maker, said his company was "watching it closely" when asked at a Bloomberg event whether he was monitoring the cannabis sector.

Consulting firm Bryan Garnier recently released research suggesting the market could grow to US$140 billion ($192b) from its present US$12b in the next decade before even accounting for beverages.

The firm suggested if cannabis was legalised more widely, alcoholic drinks makers could seek to use it in their products, creating new ranges that deliver a 'high' for the consumer.

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Ricard said: "We look at it closely. The whole sector is watching it closely."

The marriage of cannabis and alcohol exists already but only at a very small scale. In 2016 one small brewery in the town of Aurora, Colorado launched its 'Cannabeer', which fused marijuana with beer. Meanwhile, California's Rebel Coast Winery began selling its alcohol-free cannabis sauvignon blanc last month.

A total of 25 countries have legalised cannabis use in a bid to combat the black market and secure income for their respective treasuries.

Pernod Ricard chief executive Alexandre Ricard says the whole sector is watching the legalised cannabis market closely. Picture / Getty Images
Pernod Ricard chief executive Alexandre Ricard says the whole sector is watching the legalised cannabis market closely. Picture / Getty Images

Such countries include Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and the United States, where nine states now allow recreational use and 29 medical use.

Ricard said he preferred whisky, a drink his company sells through brands such as Glenlivet and Irish whiskey Jamesons.