CANADA – The world’s largest brewer, AB InBev and the Canadian producer and distributor of cannabis, Tilray have joined hands to foster research and innovation on cannabis infused beverages through a US$100 million Joint Venture partnership.

The research partnership which is limited to Canada will enhance development of non-alcohol beverages containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

AB InBev brings in its deep experience in beverages while tapping on Tilray’s expertise in producing, selling and distribution cannabis products worldwide.

 AB InBev’s participation will be through its subsidiary Labatt Breweries of Canada, one of the country’s founding businesses and its leading brewery, and Tilray’s participation will be through its Canadian adult-use cannabis subsidiary High Park Company.

“We are delighted to be joining forces with a world-leading beverage company, AB InBev, to research how to create enjoyable cannabis beverage products.

Tilray and AB InBev share a commitment to responsible product development and marketing, and we look forward to beginning our work on this important partnership as Tilray continues to pioneer the development of a professional, transparent, and well-regulated cannabis industry,” said Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Tilray.

Betting big on cannabis

Both the companies are seeking to tap into the booming cannabis market that has seen global alcohol and tobacco giants bet big cannabis-infused drinks.

In Canada, the sector is promising after the government fully legalized the recreational use of cannabis, becoming the first country in the world to do so.

The country is also expected to approve cannabis-based products including beverages and edibles in October 2019.

“Labatt is committed to staying ahead of emerging consumer trends.

As consumers in Canada explore THC and CBD-infused products, our innovative drive is matched only by our commitment to the highest standards of product quality and responsible marketing.

We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities,” said Kyle Norrington, President, Labatt Breweries of Canada.

“We look forward to learning more about these beverages and this category in the months ahead.”

Labatt Breweries of Canada makes such brands as Labatt Blue and Budweiser.

The two firms are looking forward to holding commercialization talks including production, marketing, sale and consumption.

Massive investments

The recent past has seen massive investment and partnership deals in Canada driven by increase in legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults in U.S. states and in medical cannabis around the world.

Tilray has said it will work with Sandoz AG, a unit of Swiss drug company Novartis to develop and distribute medical marijuana world-wide.

In August last year, in what seemed to be the largest investment in the sector, Corona beer maker Constellation Brands invested US$4 billion in Canopy Growth to help in global cannabis production.

The North American beer maker, Molson Coors formed a joint venture with marijuana producer Hexo Corp to make cannabis drinks.