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Nothing is finalized, but it looks like Coke is putting out a CBD beverage

Mike Pomranz
September 18, 2018

Coca-Cola’s past is intertwined with cocaine. The soda is flavored with coca leaves, and the original recipe contained low amounts of cocaine, which occurs naturally in the plant. Now, the future of Coca-Cola might involve another leafy green drug: The company is reportedly looking at the possibility of producing cannabis-infused beverages.

According to Canada’s BNN Bloomberg, Coca-Cola is in “serious talks” with the Canadian company Aurora Cannabis about developing CBD-infused beverages as the drug becomes legal for our northern neighbors next month. Though any foray into the world of marijuana would be a big step for the world’s largest beverage brand, unlike THC, which is pot’s key psychoactive component, CBD is not necessarily intoxicating. Instead, it's said to aid in relaxation or potentially have anti-inflammatory effects. As such, it’s believed that any CBD-infused drink produced by Coca-Cola would target that audience.

“[The two companies are] pretty advanced down the path” of doing a deal, a source told BNN Bloomberg, adding, “It’s going to be more of the ‘recovery drink’ category.”

Though a Coca-Cola spokesman refused to comment on this specific speculation, he was willing to imply that such a deal isn’t out of question, telling BNN that “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 also took an intriguingly ambiguous tone. “As a rule, we do not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized,” she was quoted as saying, “however we have a responsibility to our shareholders to give proper consideration to all relevant opportunities that are presented.”

Still, BNN points out that even if Coca-Cola is interested in entering the cannabis world, that doesn’t necessarily mean Aurora is the right partner. Coca-Cola also reportedly had talks with another Canadian cannabis brand a couple months ago, but didn’t pursue working with that particular company.

However, one thing seems certain here: Coca-Cola is at least not opposed to the idea of getting involved in the emerging cannabis market. Of course, for a massive company like Coca-Cola, a lot of that decision-making is likely just about dollars and cents: You don’t want to be left behind when the industry takes off. Still, the fact that Coca-Cola doesn’t seem too concern about the public knowing that they’re going down this path also seems to further show just how much sentiment is changing when it comes to the drug.

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