Coca-Cola Co. has its eye on the cannabis market. The company, which produces soft drinks such as Coke, Nestea and Sprite, is reportedly monitoring the pot industry and is specifically interested in drinks infused with CBD – the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain without a resulting high.
Per a report from BNN Bloomberg Television, the Atlanta-based beverage company is in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis to develop the drinks.
“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. “The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”
In a statement issued by a spokesperson on Monday, September 17, Coca-Cola clarified, “We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis,” but maintained it plans to “closely” watch the industry.
If Coca-Cola were to move forward with plans to market a CBD-infused beverage, which could ease inflammation, pain and cramping, it would arguably be behind several companies who are already selling – or preparing to sell – similar products. According to Bloomberg, Molson Coors Brewing Co. is starting a joint venture with Quebec’s Hexo’s Corp. to develop cannabis drinks in Canada, while Diageo PLC, the producer of Guinness beer, is holding discussions with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a possible deal.
What’s more? Heineken NV’s Lagunitas craft-brewing label has already launched a brand specializing in non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient. And in August, Corona beer brewer Constellation announced it will spend $3.8 billion to increase its stake in Canopy, another Canadian marijuana producer.
Marijuana is currently illegal at the national level in the U.S., but it has been legalized at the state level for recreational use in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C. An additional 22 states have also legalized medicinal marijuana to treat illnesses ranging from chronic pain to anxiety and epilepsy.
And since soda consumption has slowed in recent years, the world’s largest beverage company may have no choice but to diversify its interests and get into the pot-infused drink game.
Though Coca-Cola has remained mum about when consumers might expect to see a CBD-infused drink from them, there does seem to be interest in such a product. The company’s stock price rose on Monday, September 17, and as one Twitter user put it: “Time to buy shares in @CocaCola.”
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!