The dankest of sodas? Big if true.
The quintessential American soft drink giant Coca-Cola said on Monday in a statement that the company is “closely watching” the growth of CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical component of marijuana, in the “functional wellness beverage” industry.
After teasing rumors, the company later said that it can’t confirm anything just yet.
“The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time,” Coke said in a statement.
The statement followed reports by Bloomberg reported that Coke is currently in talks with Canadian-based marijuana company Aurora Cannabis, according to the media company’s inside sources.
Aurora Cannabis said it is working with several beverage companies at this time, but refused to confirm talks with Coke specifically.
“I think it’s important to have a beverage, period,” said Aurora Cannabis chief executive Terry Booth in the interview with Bloomberg. “We can’t comment on speculation at this time … We’ve spoke [sic] to at least three different beverage companies in the space in the last three months.”
“Aurora has expressed specific interest in the infused-beverage space, and we intend to enter that market,” Aurora continued in a statement from spokeswoman Heather MacGregor on Monday. “There is so much happening in this area right now and we think it has incredible potential.”
If the rumors are true, Coke would be the first non-alcoholic manufacturer to make cannabis-infused drinks.
Soda sales are slowing down, but health drink sales are on the rise, according to Reuters reports on the beverage industry this year. Many think America’s top soft drink producer is eyeing the long game. Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo, is among them. She says that CBD-infused drinks are poised to become a huge industry with profits projected to reach $50 billion each year. This estimated annual market revenue would amount to nearly half of beer industry sales, currently valued around $117 billion.
While marijuana is still illegal in most U.S. states, CBD is different than what you think of as marijuana. CBD, or cannabidiol, doesn’t get you high like marijuana’s more famous psychoactive THC. However, CBD is commonly prescribed for medical use. The chemical compound found in the cannabis plant relieves pain, reduces anxiety, helps sleep, and calms symptoms of epilepsy — all without getting you high.
In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the epilepsy drug Epidiolex, the first cannabis-infused drug allowed in the United States with federal approval. The drug contains CBD.
However, experts say it’s not likely that Coke would launch cannabis-infused beverages in the United States until the law changes. Coke’s (hypothetical) cannabis-infused beverages would likely start by rolling out in Canada.
Unlike the U.S., Canada has already decriminalized marijuana and is currently in the process of legalizing it for recreational purposes. However, these experts also say that the company probably plans on eyeing the U.S. market long-term.
Kris Kane, an expert on cannabis industry law and president of 4Front, said, “I can’t imagine they’re doing it just for the 35 million people in Canada; they clearly have an eye on the US market.”
As Wall Street investors gushed at the recent back-and-forth, Americans are closely watching Coke’s next moves. Many Americans have expressed on social media that if Coca-Cola does go ahead with cannabis-infused drinks, that would be pretty dank.
Have you ever tried cannabis-infused drinks, candy, or supplements? Let us know your thoughts on cannabis-infused Coke — and if you’d drink it.