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Coke is ‘closely watching’ the market for drinks infused with cannabis extract

Soft drink titan Coca-Cola is "closely watching" the market for drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, the chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain and anxiety.

Soft drink titan Coca-Cola is "closely watching" the market for drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, the chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain and anxiety. | Getty Images

Soft drink titan Coca-Cola is “closely watching” the market for drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, the chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain and anxiety.

Noting the space for cannabidiol-based drinks is “evolving quickly,” the company stressed that the ingredient doesn’t produce the high that comes from another cannabis-derived chemical known as THC.

“Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola said Monday in a statement.

“The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

The statement followed a report that Coca-Cola was allegedly in “serious talks” to develop cannabis-related beverages with Canada’s Aurora Cannabis. That report, published by BNN Bloomberg, cited “multiple sources familiar with the matter” but was not denied in statements by both companies.

Aurora, a cannabis producer, wants to enter the infused beverage industry but does “not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized,” spokeswoman Heather MacGregor told the business network.

Coca-Cola test-launched an alcoholic drink in Japan earlier this year. A move into cannabis-derived beverages would offer another option for the company as health-conscious consumers move away from sugary sodas.

Coca-Cola’s desire to explore CBD for a “functional wellness beverage” could result in a drink that eases inflammation, cramping or other pains, BNN Bloomberg reported.

The extract is already found in alternative medicines and supplements, with anecdotal evidence that it relieves anxiety, headaches and arthritis. The Food and Drug Administration approved its use to treat epilepsy earlier this year.

In the alcohol industry, the companies behind Coors and Blue Moon have both launched marijuana-related drinks. Molson Coors, the maker of Coors beer, also worked with a Canadian cannabis company to produce its infused products.