Coke in talks to make cannabis-infused drinks

Jermaine Castillo
September 18, 2018

Coca-Cola is reportedly in "serious talks" with Aurora Cannabis to develop marijuana-infused drinks.

"The space is evolving quickly", Coke said. "No decisions have been made at this time", Coke added.

Coca-Cola's statement comes amid reports the company has held talks with Canada's Aurora Cannabis to develop beverages.

Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) is closely watching the fast-growing marijuana drinks market for a possible entry that would expand the world's largest soft drink maker's ambitions further away from sugary sodas.

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Coke says it's following the debate over the ingredient cannabidiol or CBD oil.

While CBD does not have the same psychoactive effect that THC does, it has been touted by some as having therapeutic effects, such as pain relief. Coca-Cola shares were marginally higher in a USA market struggling against expectations of another round of Chinese trade tariffs.

Besides Aurora, she said cannabis companies Tilray (TLRY.O) and Aphria (APH.TO) were likely targets for partnerships with big consumer companies looking to get into the market.

Although Canada is gearing up to legalize marijuana for recreational use on October 17, beverages infused with the plant's active ingredients won't be legal until sometime in 2019. The drinks would aim to relieve pain with CBD rather than give the "high" associated with inhaling marijuana. Just last week, Coke announced a deal to buy Costa Coffee for $5 billion.

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In the USA, medicinal use is allowed in 29 states and the District of Columbia and nine of the states have legalised both medical and personal cannabis use.

While marijuana remains illegal at the national level in the USA, there is growing acceptance of the use of CBD derived from marijuana to treat illnesses ranging from chronic pain to anxiety and epilepsy.

BNN Bloomberg reported that shares in Aurora surged as much as 19% when markets opened Monday, paring gains to about 16% to $9.92 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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