Coca-Cola may join the fast-growing marijuana beverage market


Coca-Cola Company may join the fast-growing number of consumer companies looking to get into the marijuana beverage market in the years ahead. Reports said on Monday that the company was in talks with Aurora Cannabis Inc of Canada to develop drinks infused with cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Some analysts say if the plan becomes a reality it would take Coca-Cola into a healthier segment away from sugary sodas, which have been linked to some health issues. Cannabidiol is linked to a range of health benefits and is used in FDA-approved epilepsy drugs. It has also been associated with some health foods like teas, candies, and beverages. Aurora Cannabis website says CBD has been connected to the anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, and muscle relaxing functions of medical marijuana.

Employees tend to marijuana plants at the Aurora Cannabis Inc. facility in Canada.
Photo credit: Bloomberg

Cannabidiol is said to be one of hundreds of molecules found in marijuana plants, and contains less than 0.1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause intoxication.

Coca-Cola is not going to be the first beverage company to introduce marijuana drinks as brands in the market such as Dirty Lemon, Sprig and Kickback already have CBD. Analysts predict that the legal marijuana industry can be a bigger market than soda.

Some beer companies are also active players in the marijuana beverage market segment. For instance, Heineken’s craft beer Lagunitas recently launched Hi-Fi Hops, a beer-flavoured sparkling water with THC and CBD.

However, Coca-Cola Company has dismissed the speculation about its interest in cnabidiol-infused beverages. According to the company, “We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.  The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

Aurora Cannabis also issued a statement saying, “Aurora has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space, and we intend to enter that market. There is so much happening in this area right now and we think it has incredible potential. As a rule, we do not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized, however we have a responsibility to our shareholders to give proper consideration to all relevant opportunities that are presented.”

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