More than a century after Coca-Cola removed cocaine from its secret formula, the multinational beverage giant is in talks with Canada’s Aurora Cannabis to develop cannabis-infused drinks. That’s according to a report today from Bloomberg’s BNN, which cited multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The discussions, which are said to be “serious,” concern a line of drinks that would contain the non-psychoactive cannabidiol chemical, meaning consumers wouldn’t drink the beverages to catch a buzz, but rather to ease pain or inflammation.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in marijuana plants that is now legal to consume in many states. According to Bloomberg, it’s expected to blossom into a $2.1 billion market by 2020. Should Coke move forward with the plans, it would likely supercharge efforts to thrust legal marijuana products into the mainstream, as the beverage giant is easily one of the world’s most recognizable brands.
I reached out to Coke and Aurora for comment and will update if I hear back. (Statements follow in updates.) Neither company would comment directly on the talks to Bloomberg, although Coke said it was “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.”
One of Bloomberg’s sources said the drinks in question would fall under the “recovery drink” category. You can read the full report here.
Update: A Coca-Cola spokesperson offered the following statement:
“We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. 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.”
A spokeswoman for Aurora offered the following statement:
“Aurora has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space, and we intend to enter that market. There is so much happening in this area right now and we think it has incredible potential. 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.”