Coca-Cola in talks with cannabis-infused beverages company Aurora Cannabis

USA – The Coca-Cola Company, the global manufacturer for non-alcoholic beverages, is in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop cannabis-infused beverages, a move that would signal a significant foray into the marijuana sector.

According to Bloomberg, Coca-Cola is interested in developing beverages that are infused with cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants.

Unlike other deals between alcohol makers and cannabis producers aimed at making drinks that will give consumers a “buzz” similar to inhaling marijuana, Coca-Cola and Aurora would likely develop beverages that will ease inflammation, pain and cramping.

Estimates vary, but the consumer CBD market is estimated to grow to US$2.1 billion by 2020, from US$202 million in 2015, according to a recent report in the Hemp Business Journal.

Kent Landers, a spokesman from Coca-Cola, declined to comment about Aurora.

However, he added in an emailed statement to BNN Bloomberg that “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. The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”

Heather MacGregor, a spokeswoman with Aurora, said in an emailed statement that the cannabis producer has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space, and intends to enter that market.

“As a rule, we do not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized, however we have a responsibility to our shareholders to give proper consideration to all relevant opportunities that are presented,” MacGregor said.

According to Forbes, several companies, particularly alcoholic beverage makers, are reportedly interested in the cannabis-infused drinks space.

In August, there was a massive US$4 billion investment by alcoholic beverage giant Constellation Brands into pot company Canopy Growth Corporation.

Moreover, beer maker Molson Coors has tied up with Hydropothecary to develop marijuana-infused drinks in Canada, while Heineken has already launched a THC-infused sparkling water in California dispensaries.

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