North America’s oldest brewery is getting into the ganja game. This week, Molson Coors Canada announced a joint venture with Canadian cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corp., adding one more multinational alcohol conglomerate to the already-growing arms race for market share in the growing THC-infused beverage market.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, Molson Coors will own 57.5% of the new endeavor, with Hydropothecary controlling the remaining 42.5%. With Canada’s nationwide adult-use marijuana industry debuting later this year, officials at Molson Coors view the partnership as a necessary step in adapting to the shifting face of legal intoxicants.
"Canada is breaking new ground in the cannabis sector and, as one of the country's leading beverage companies, Molson Coors Canada has a unique opportunity to participate in this exciting and rapidly expanding consumer segment,” Frederic Landtmeters, President and CEO of Molson Coors Canada, said in a press release announcing the joint venture. “This new venture is consistent with our growth strategy and our commitment to being First Choice for Consumers and Customers by ensuring that Canadians have access to high-quality products that meet their evolving drinking preferences.”
Canada will not finalize its edible and infused beverage regulations until next summer, adding a de facto delay to the Molson Coors cannabis drink, but like drinkable THC standards across legal weed states in the U.S., it is already clear that the Great White North will require all infused beverages to be alcohol-free.
Despite those near-universal regulations banning the sale of a THC-alcohol combination, a number of booze industry conglomerates have diversified their investments with an entrance into the cannabis space over the past year. In 2017, Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona, Modelo, and Svedka vodka, paid nearly $200 million to purchase a 9.9% ownership stake in Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth.
And while Constellation and Molson Coors work on their respective non-alcoholic THC drink collaborations, high ranking executives at Budweiser and Blue Moon (a Molson Coors subsidiary) have left the liquor industry altogether in favor of roles in the burgeoning American green rush.
Even more recently, California-based Lagunitas Brewery (a subsidiary of Heineken), debuted a THC and CBD-infused sparkling water, sold exclusively in licensed dispensaries. Adding to the hype, Nevada will welcome its first buzzworthy brew with 0% ABV, Two Roots Marijuana Beer, to local pot shops this week.
As alcohol companies continue to embrace cannabis instead of rejecting legal weed as a potential retail competitor, the infused beverage space is quickly becoming one of the marijuana industry’s most heavily-invested product categories.
The Molson Coors-Hydropothecary joint venture is scheduled to be finalized by the end of next month, with research and development on a cannabis beverage set to begin shortly after.
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