Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Ottawa, Canada (4E) – Cannabis. Cannabis. Canada. Coke wants to market “functional wellness beverages” infused with a marijuana chemical.
So do Heineken and Constellation Brands, whose beer, wine and spirits line includes Corona, Modelo Especial, Black Velvet Canadian Whisky and Svedka Vodka, among others. Both are looking to market cannabis-infused beverages.
Now, Walmart Canada, Walmart’s Canadian division based in Mississauga, Ontario, wants in on the cannabis action. Walmart Canada is said to be exploring the sale of cannabis or marijuana products in its stores around the country.
Walmart Canada said it’s done some “preliminary fact-finding” on carrying cannabidiol (CBD)-infused products in its stores. It did emphasize it has no immediate plans to do so, however. Walmart’s stock rose 2% following the reports.
Cannabidiol is an active ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant. It may help treat conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety. CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana. It won’t make you high, however.
Canada will legalize marijuana throughout the entire country on October 17. Analysts expect CBD to appear in products ranging from beverages to skincare.
In the U.S., the CBD market right now is estimated to be a $1 billion business. The market could well boom to $22 billion across a range of cannabidiol categories, including beverages, snacks, and beauty products, in the next four years.
The possibility of cannabis-infused drinks being sold in the open has led to a flood of investments in Canadian companies at the forefront of the booming cannabis industry.
Last month, the Coca-Cola Company said it’s closely watching the untrammelled growth of cannabis-infused drinks in Canada and might soon join the party. Coke admitted it’s interested in exploring the potentials of CBD as an ingredient in a new class of consumer drink it calls “functional wellness beverages.”
Coke is engaged in discussions about cannabius-infused drinks with Aurora Cannabis, Inc, a publicly traded Canadian company that makes and sells whole-flower cannabis, milled cannabis, cannabis oils and vaporizers. Aurora has also said it’s interested in developing cannabis drinks.
In August, Constellation Brands invested $3.8 billion in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian firm that is the largest producer of medical marijuana in North America. The investment by Constellation Brands saw Canopy Growth’s stocks surge by a massive 30 percent.
Canopy Growth is the first federally regulated, publicly traded cannabis producer in Canada and the United States. It’s been called one of the world’s premier exporters of marijuana, and is also Canada’s first cannabis exporter.
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