By Prarthana Mitra
Just weeks after merging with a leading caffeine chain, beverage giant Coca-Cola has decided to make a late foray into the cannabis drinks market. This means the next Coke you order may contain CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana commonly used for medicinal and pain-relief purposes. In layman terms, it will not get you high but may make you feel tad sluggish.
The Atlanta-based soft drink conglomerate is currently in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis to develop the beverages aimed at easing inflammation, pain and cramping, according to a Bloomberg report. “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 told the news channel. “The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.” Landers declined to comment on Aurora.
Alongside craft beers and La Croix, cannabis-infused drinks are slowly becoming the fad among millennials. While it may be just another vertical to explore for beverage companies, who are resorting to every PR strategy in the book to make marijuana a trendy ingredient in their brews, it is paying off when traditional beverages are no longer in demand. Beverage behemoths Corona and Heineken have either increased investment and stake in local marijuana producers, or launched non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient. Diageo PLC which brews the world-famous Guinness beer, is holding discussions with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a possible deal, BNN Bloomberg reported last month.
Coca-Cola has been diversifying for quite some time, especially as consumption of their eponymous soda continues to decline and draw criticism for health impact. The company which gave the world Coke, Sprite, and Powerade, announced it will acquire the Costa Coffee chain for $5.1 billion in August. But more importantly perhaps, when a company which is almost synonymous with American culture takes the step towards normalising marijuana use in their iconic drink, it sends a strong message to those US states still against legalising the herb for medical purposes.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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