Coca-Cola may set its sights on CBD-infused drinks, BNN Bloomberg reported this week. “We no interest in marijuana or cannabis,” the company claimed in a statement on Monday. Then, they proceeded to undermine their own statement. Coca-Cola is allegedly ‘in talks’ with Canadian cannabis manufacturer, Aurora Cannabis, to consider a drink featuring cannabidiol, which comes from cannabis, as one of the major ingredients.
“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” a spokesperson for Coca-Cola told Bloomberg in an emailed statement. The spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Aurora Cannabis. A source familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg that the two companies were “pretty advanced down the path [of a deal].”
The Atlanta-based cola giant would be far from the first drink manufacturer to produce a cannabis-infused beverage. Alcohol and sports drinks are available in dispensaries across the US. The difference, according to Coca-Cola’s position, is their desire to make a ‘recovery drink,’ according to one source. Currently, cannabis-infused drinks are made exclusively with the psychoactive component, THC.
Coca-Cola’s focus on using CBD sets it apart from other manufacturers and products on the market, and gives them the potential edge, since CBD is legally available in almost all 50 US states. Their alleged goal is to produce a drink to relieve inflammation and cramping, one of the main effects of the hemp-derived cannabis component. CBD does not cause the ‘high’ associated with typical cannabis use, as it does not interact with the body’s receptors in the same way as THC. A number of CBD products are already available in US health and natural goods stores, with the first FDA-approved CBD drug, Epidiolex, to hit markets soon.
The Hemp Business Journal recently estimated the CBD industry’s growth to over US $2 billion by 2020. Bloomberg reports that Coca-Cola’s sales are down over 15% from last year. Last week, Coca-Cola announced its deal to buy out Starbucks competitor, Costa Coffee Co., for $5 billion. If the 132-year old beverage company hopes to stay relevant, it will need to keep up with the innovation of the market beyond producing more caffeinated drinks. The infused-beverage and cannabis drink market has attracted even beer companies, as traditional sales decline across the board.
Aurora Cannabis, conversely, has grown considerably, thanks to trends in the cannabis business sector. Just Monday, the company’s stocks rose a whopping 23% with Coca-Cola’s statement. As Canada recently announced legalizing recreational cannabis this coming October, further growth for ‘cannabiz’ is expected. “There’s a lot of interest from [consumer-packaged goods], and liquor and tobacco [companies] to look at cannabis as a new growth vector,” managing director of equity research at GMP Securities LP, Martin Landry, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview.