Readers of a certain vintage will remember a time when they struggled to get Mexican brick weed to smoke. It was a constant challenge to locate black market dealers and get half-decent weed, at least not without fear of getting arrested. Today, you can get delicious cannabis-infused edibles, topicals, concentrates, capsules… and now, drinks!
Over the years, research has discovered a non-intoxicating compound in marijuana called CBD. It is legal in almost every state, and is found in high quantities in industrial hemp. The 2018 Hemp Farming Act will legalize the crop as an agricultural commodity, which means it can be legally grown like tomatoes or corn!
And once hemp is officially taken off the list of controlled substances, we expect game-changing innovations to hit the market as corporate giants – like none other than Coca-Cola – try to get on board with the CBD express.
| “Once hemp is removed as a Schedule I substance, expect game-changing innovations from corporate giants – like Coca-Cola – as they get on board the CBD express.”
Coca-Cola Confirms Interest in CBD Drink Market
Aurora Cannabis is one of Canada’s leading marijuana producers, and its stock value benefitted from news of a potential collaboration with beverage giant Coca-Cola. According to Canadian news outlet BNN Bloomberg, Coca-Cola and Aurora were in serious talks to develop a proprietary CBD-infused soft drink.
As expected, Coca-Cola denied that an outright agreement was in place, but admitted to monitoring the cannabis industry’s development with a view to creating a ‘functional wellness beverage.’ If the drink is created, it will only contain CBD and not THC, the famed psychoactive compound in weed.
| “As expected, Coca-Cola denied that an outright agreement was in place … but did admit to ‘monitoring the cannabis industry’s development’ in the beverage sector.”
Kent Landers, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, read a prepared statement addressing what he called ‘speculation.’ According to Landers, the company knows that the cannabis space is quickly evolving and it may become possible to create a wellness beverage containing CBD. However, “no decisions have been made at this time.”
Meanwhile, Aurora also issued a statement admitting that it is interested in the ‘infused beverage space,’ and that it fully intends to enter the market. The statement continued by saying that much was happening in the market at present, and Aurora believed there was incredible potential. It concluded by saying that stories such as the link with Coca-Cola were “further validation of the massive global potential of the cannabis industry.”
Aurora and Coca-Cola: Cannabis Market Moves?
The news of a potential partnership between Aurora and Coca-Cola helped spike the cannabis company’s stock price with a 23% boost in a single day. Other cannabis industry stocks (New Age Beverages, Tilray, Canopy Growth, etc) received windfall as well, with most seeing at least a 10% jump in under 24 hours.
And the most exciting aspect about the news is that it wasn’t an isolated incident; it is a fact that soda consumption has reduced markedly in recent years as the nation’s obesity crisis hits hard, and it appears that cannabis-infused drinks may be a way for corporations like Coke to regain their foothold in the market.
| “Soda consumption has declined in recent years due to health-risk awareness … [and] cannabis-infused drinks may be a way for corporations like Coke to regain a foothold in the market.”
As a result, Coca-Cola has been diversifying and recently announced that it would be acquiring the Costa Coffee chain for over $5 billion. In the last few years, the company has also expanded into products such as mineral water, juice, and even tea, so it is hardly a stretch to suggest it is keen to enter the growing cannabis market. And being the third largest weed producer in Canada with a market value of almost C$9 billion, Aurora would make for a very good partner.
In August 2018, Constellation Brands Inc. announced that it was increasing its stake in Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Inc., to the tune of $3.8 billion. Meanwhile, Molson Coors Brewing Co. has begun a joint venture with Hexo’s Corporation (a Quebec-based marijuana producer), to develop marijuana drinks in Canada.
And of course, the creator of the iconic Guinness stout beer Diageo PLC has sounded out at least three Canadian weed producers about a potential deal, according to several reports. Heineken NV’s label, Lagunitas, has already launched a THC-laden range of non-alcoholic drinks.
It appears without a doubt that cannabis-infused soft drinks will become a common presence in the very, very near future.
Will CBD Be Effective as a Beverage?
But will average, everyday folks latch on to cannabis-infused beverages? Not according to Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Addiction Institute. She believes existing drinks don’t contain anywhere near enough CBD to be effective.
| “According to Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Addiction Institute, existing CBD drinks don’t contain anywhere near enough cannabidiol to be [therapeutically] effective.”
For example, Vybes has produced a CBD drink to help regulate anxiety, mood, memory, and sleep. However, each 14-ounce bottle contains just 15mg of CBD. Hurd claims that you need up to 200mg a day for CBD to prove useful for certain disorders. She concluded by saying that Vybes’ drink is best used as a placebo.
However, if companies began selling drinks with higher levels of CBD, they could prove effective. For example, Florida-based company Hemp Bombs sells a CBD Max Chill Relaxation shot which contains 75mg of CBD. The downside of course is that at $14.99, it’s not cheap — and is not something you’d likely be using every day.
Moreover, experienced marijuana users will tell you that weed and alcohol don’t mix. However, what happens if you mix booze with CBD? In Los Angeles for example, the bar scene has launched into a new CBD cocktail trend, and there is already CBD-infused beer on the market.
CBD and alcohol both reduce inhibitions and help you relax, so in theory when you combine the two, the effects should be even more apparent. As you can imagine, you need to be careful when combining these substances; the more you take of either, the stronger the effects. Therefore, if you have consumed a lot of CBD and add alcohol to the mix, you could enter an extremely sedated state.
| “…if you have consumed a lot of CBD and add alcohol to the mix, you could enter an extremely sedated state.”
Although CBD is not intoxicating on its own, it is likely to enhance the level of intoxication felt from alcohol consumption. This means a greater loss of control, motor coordination, and inhibition. On the plus side, if you tend to be an angry or even violent drunk, CBD should take the edge off your rage. If you’re a happy drunk, CBD will probably enhance your mood even further.
An interesting study by Consroe et al., published in Psychopharmacology back in 1980, showed that people who consumed alcohol with a 200mg capsule of CBD had lower blood alcohol levels than those who only had alcohol.
Interestingly, however, the CBD users still had the same motor coordination and impairments in cognition.
Final Thoughts on Coca-Cola, CBD Drinks, and the Future of the Cannabis Beverage Market
Ultimately, the biggest obstacle faced by cannabis beverage producers is to create a CBD-infused drink that contains enough of the compound to be effective, while still being affordable. At present, the only CBD drinks on offer are expensive relative to their cannabidiol content. Perhaps Coca-Cola’s entry into the market will produce a less expensive price point.