Is Coca-Cola Ready to Invest in Cannabinoid Beverages?

Drink maker says it's watching the budding category closely

ATLANTA -- Could the Coca-Cola Co. be the next beverage maker to move into the cannabis market? Depends on who you ask.

Bloomberg reported Sept. 17 that Coca-Cola Co. is monitoring the nascent cannabis industry and is interested in drinks infused with cannabinoids, or CBD, the nonpsychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain but doesn’t get you high. The news source also went so far as to suggest Coca-Cola Co. is in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop beverages.

Following the release of the Bloomberg report, however, the Atlanta-based beverage-maker clarified its stance on the issue.

“We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis," the company said in a statement. "Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of nonpsychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world. The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

The company declined comment on further speculation.

Coca-Cola Co. isn't the first beverage company to express an interest in cannabis-enhanced drinks. So far, however, the most agressive investments have come from beer companies:

  • As previously reported in CSP Daily News, Constellation Brands in August expanded its investment in cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp. following an initial investment made in 2017. Victor, N.Y.-based Constellation Brands, the importer of Corona and Modelo beers, Svedka vodka and Mark West wines, among other alcohol brands, increased its ownership interest in Canopy Growth by acquiring 104.5 million shares directly from the Ontario-based company, giving Constellation about 38% ownership.
  • Also in August, Canada's Molson Coors Brewing Co., owner of MillerCoors in the United States, partnered with Hydropothecary Corp., creating a joint venture "to pursue opportunities to develop nonalcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market." Marijuana will be legal in Canada for recreational use beginning Oct. 17.
  • In late July, Heineken USA began a test of a cannabis-infused "beer" under its Lagunitas craft-beer brand. The nonalcohol drink is made with THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but labeled as a "hoppy sparking water." The drink initially is available only in marijuana dispensaries in California, where the drug is legal.

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