Coca-Cola might want to buy some weed soon

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In the weeds on immigration.
Image: AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo
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One of the world’s largest soda companies is feeling a little experimental, so it’s doing what scores of people do in the same situation—it’s checking out some drugs.

More specifically, the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company is curious about one Canadian firm—Aurora Cannabis Inc.—that has made cannabis, or marijuana, it’s primary business, according to a new report by BNN Bloomberg. As the beverage giant continues to grapple with slowing soda sales and an increased interest by the public in teas and flavored waters, executives reportedly are in internal discussions over whether to invest in drinks with CBD in them. CBD is the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, which can’t get a person high but will soothe and relieve pain.

While the soda industry has undoubtedly suffered from slowing sales and intense battles in California, Colorado, and Philadelphia over the implementation of soda taxes, sweetened-beverage companies aren’t the only ones keeping any eye on the rising interest in cannabis-infused drinks. For at least a few years the beer industry has been keeping close tabs on the cannabis world, seen as a potential threat to what’s sometimes called its “share of buzz.”

That concern is well placed. The industry around marijuana is booming. In 2011, legal sales hit just over $1 billion. By 2016, that had increased to just over $4 billion. A year later, by the end of 2017, it more than doubled to about $9 billion.

At least two beer companies, Molson Coors Brewing Co. and Diageo, are in discussions with cannabis companies, according to Bloomberg. And Heineken has already launched a non-alcoholic drink containing marijuana ingredients under its Lagunitas brand.

While the rules around the sale of cannabis products are nuanced under US law, broadly speaking it is still a controversial subject. Generally, it remains illegal to sell marijuana, even though a patchwork of states and municipalities allow it to be bought, grown and kept for personal use. Even still, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June gave the OK for a company called GW Pharmaceuticals to sell a product made from marijuana to treat epilepsy. Another drug was approved by the FDA this week.