One of the world’s best-known breweries is teaming up with a Canadian cannabis company to make marijuana-infused drinks, reports USA Today. Molson Coors’ Canadian arm announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with The Hydropothecary Corp. to develop non-alcoholic weed drinks for the Canadian market.
Canada begins legal marijuana sales nationally in October, but experts say the Molson Coors drink likely won’t be on the shelves until next summer.
Marijuana-infused drinks aren’t new, but Molson Coors will be the first ‘big-player’ to enter the market. Credit: Freecannabis
While significant because Molson Coors is also such a big player in the market for mind-altering drinks, the move also reflects a trend by consumers away from smoking “flower” marijuana – the raw plant – and instead toward vaping and consuming cannabis-infused foods known as edibles.
“This is just the start of all these big companies coming in,” said Jessica Lukas, the vice president of consumer insights for marijuana data firm BDS Analytics. “It’s going to change the game for the existing market and for the consumers.”
Several companies already make such drinks, including Colorado-based Dixie Elixirs, but those drinks lack the brand recognition that Molson Coors brings.
Other well-known names are also entering the space: The inventor of Blue Moon beer is launching three marijuana-infused drinks this fall in Colorado, and in California, Lagunitas Brewing has lent its name to a marijuana-infused “Hoppy Sparkling Water” drink.
Conventional wisdom has long held that brewers have the most to lose under cannabis legalization as young men switch from beer to cannabis. But an April analysis by European bank Rabobank suggests women who have avoided illegal marijuana are likely to begin consuming pot more consistently once it’s more broadly legalized. The analysis specifically highlighted professional women looking to relax after work without consuming calories from a glass or two of wine.
It’s no wonder big companies are keeping a close eye on the opportunities: In the United States, medical and recreational cannabis sales will hit $11.7 billion this year, predicts cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, increase by 25% in 2019 and hit $25 billion in seven years. For comparison, wine sales in the United States were worth $60 billion last year, according to the Beverage Information and Insights Group.