By Joe Rubino
When Coca-Cola publicly announces it is sizing up business opportunities in an industry, people take notice.
That was the case in mid September when Coke — the world’s largest beverage company with a market cap north of $211 billion — said it was keeping an eye on cannabis infused drinks, with a particular focus on beverages containing the non-psychoactive compound CBD. The announcement sent pot stocks soaring.
Coke may be on the sidelines for now, but at least one notable producer of bubbly beverages isn’t waiting around. Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., one of the largest beer makers in the world, launched a joint venture this summer with a Canadian cannabis company with the aim to create alcohol-free, infused drinks.
Bad news for Coors Banquet lovers who also enjoy cannabis: Molson Coors doesn’t plan to launch a similar venture in the states. Pot’s federal designation as an illegal drug in the U.S. is why.
“Our new (joint venture) will be limited solely to the Canadian market,” company spokesman Colin Wheeler said in an email last month. “We will we only review additional opportunities as and when adult-use cannabis becomes legal at both the federal and local level in a given market.”
It’s not necessarily drinks that provide a buzz generating the most buzz, though. Coke specifically singled out CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 active compounds in cannabis, known for its physical relaxation and anti-inflammatory effects and not the high ascribed to its cousin THC.
CBD products can be purchased in many grocery stores across the country, or online through e-commerce sites like Amazon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June approved an oral CBD medication for use to combat seizures.
Dirty Lemon, a New York City-based direct-to-consumer beverage company known for a sizable and enthusiastic Instagram following, ships six-packs of its citrus-flavored cannabis-blend drink around the country for $65 per case. The CBD it contains is “sourced from non-GMO industrial hemp, grown in Colorado under registration by the Colorado Department of Agriculture,” according to its website.
The legal use of hemp and hemp extracts like CBD in food products was codified in a bill signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May. That bolstered a policy the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been observing since mid 2017.