After more than a year of anticipation, legal weed is coming to Canada next month. And as cultivators get set to ramp up production, and financiers pick their favorite pot stocks, alcohol magnate Molson Coors wants to be first in line to corner the market share of the country’s infused beverage space.
In an interview with Bloomberg News this week, Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter said that the conglomerate’s recently-finalized joint venture with Canadian cannabis company The Hydropothecary Corporation would result in a variety of THC and CBD-infused beverages to satisfy the diverse preferences of consumers.
“There will be a range of beverages, so it could be teas, seltzer, or beer that’s been dealcoholized,” Hunter told Bloomberg. “And on occasions where people want to kick back and relax and socialize with their friends, they’ll be able to enjoy all of those flavors, but alcohol will be replaced with a cannabis compound.”
Since beverages containing both alcohol and cannabis will be banned from the market entirely, Hunter described the endeavor as an opportunity to expand the company’s non-alcoholic product line. Molson Coors recently launched the non-alcoholic beer Molson Edge in Canada, joining the brand’s nine other booze-free options offered around the world.
“It’s a big part of who we are, and you’re going to see a lot more innovation [in non-alcoholic products] in the coming years,” Hunter told Bloomberg.
In both the U.S. and Canada, alcohol companies and executives have been some of the first mainstream investors and incubators in the cannabis-infused beverage space. Leaders and former employees from Anheuser-Busch and Blue Moon have begun transitioning their professional interests from booze to bud, while multinational liquor and beer conglomerate Constellation Brands has already funnelled billions into Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp.
Despite the competition in the nascent market, Hunter is confident that Molson Coors’ decades of drink industry experience will set the company’s infused beverages apart from the rest. “What we’ll bring to this is big brand credentials and a real sense of responsibility around this space as well,” Hunter said.
Thanks to America’s unique set of state-specific cannabis legalization laws, large corporations like Molson Coors have so far resisted investments in places like California and Colorado. But if Hunter’s ambitions for Canada are any indicator, the brand that brought us the Banquet Beer is only getting started on the green side of things.
“Venturing into this in Canada allows us to do it in a very tight geography — we can incubate, we can test, we can learn,” Hunter said. “And really, we had to decide whether we wanted to be a spectator or on the playing field. We decided to get on the playing field.”
Canada is set to officially legalize cannabis on October 17th, but retail stores will not open until at least April of next year. Currently, specific regulations for infused edibles and beverages are yet to be finalized.
(h/t Marijuana Moment)
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