Coca-Cola is jumping onto the marijuana train as reports claim they are in talks to create a soft drink that is infused with marijuana.
The US giant is said to be in ‘serious’ discussions with a cannabis producer as it looks to grab a slice of the growing marijuana market.
A deal with the firm, Aurora Cannabis, could lead to Coca-Cola selling drinks infused with marijuana, which is said to have health benefits such as easing inflammation, pain, and cramping.
The conglomerate is likely to use cannabidiol, known as CBD, to develop the drinks. CBD is the non-psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis that is said to help ease the pain but without the buzz or high some users seek.
According to US-based Bloomberg news, sources close to negotiations said Coca-Cola and Aurora are ‘pretty advanced down the path’ of doing a deal. “It’s going to be more of a recovery drink,” the source added.
If Coca-Cola seals a contract with Aurora it would be the first major soft drinks firm to make a move into the marijuana market.
Canada is set to legalize the recreational use of cannabis next month as more states across the United States make it legal.
The South African Constitution Court legalized the private use of marijuana this week.
CBD oil is already on the shelves in the UK and is increasingly popular among those seeking an alternative to aid sleep and alleviate mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
However, it can only be sold as a food supplement. In 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said items containing CBD would have to be licensed if they were advertised for medical purposes.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola refused to comment on speculation but added, “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,” said the spokesperson.
A spokesman for Aurora, which is based in Canada, said, “Aurora has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space, and we intend to enter that market.”
There are growing calls for a separate type of oil derived from cannabis that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient of the plant, to be more widely available.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced in June that doctors in the UK would be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products under strict conditions.
It followed the cases of Alfie Dingley, six, of Kenilworth, Warwickshire, and Billy Caldwell, 12, from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, who were given temporary licences for the oil to treat their severe epileptic seizures. The boys were originally denied the oil after it was confiscated at border control.