Beverage giant Coca-Cola is considering development of a cannabis-infused drink, according to reports Monday.
Coke has already begun talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis on the possibility of producing the beverage, according to Bloomberg.
The drink would be aimed at alleviating pain and promoting good health instead of intoxicating users, though company spokesperson Kent Landers hinted a final product could still be a long way off.
“The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time,” he told Bloomberg.
“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.”
Landers declined to comment directly on the Aurora talks, though an unnamed source close to the company told Bloomberg the discussions between the two companies were “serious.”
“They’re pretty advanced down the path” of producing a cannabis-infused beverage, the source said.
In a statement, Aurora likewise declined to comment on the talks with Coke, but confirmed it was pursuing a cannabis beverage.
“Aurora has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space, and we intend to enter that market.”
News of the possible partnership saw Aurora’s shares jump more than 20 percent, while sparking speculation that a cannabis drink could help Coke diversify outside of the ailing soda market. According to industry analyst group Beverage Digest, soda sales in the U.S. sank 1.3 percent last year, as reported by Business Insider. In 2017 alone, the soda slump contributed to a 2 percent decline in Coke’s brand value.
However, Coke isn’t the only major beverage producer eyeing the cannabis market.
In August, alcoholic beverage manufacturer Constellation Brands announced plans to invest $4 billion into a partnership with cannabis company Canopy Growth to develop marijuana-infused products. The Canadian branch of Molson Coors Brewing Company has also stated it plans to design its own cannabis beverage.
These deals could just be the start of a race for the budding cannabis beverage market, according to industry analyst Vivien Azer.
“We continue to expect to see more deals between Canadian cannabis companies and the larger players in the global alcohol market who have yet to gain exposure to the category,” Azer told Reuters.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, Canadian startup Province Brands has already become the first producer to brew beer directly from the cannabis plant. Unlike Coke’s possible beverage, the cannabis beer reportedly packs a punch.
“The beer hits you very quickly, which is not common for a marijuana edible,” said Province Brands’ Dooma Wendschuh.
The company is still tinkering with its brewing process, but Wendschuh said Canadian consumers will likely be the first to try the finished product.
“Canada is already leading the world in creating an industry around medical cannabis and we expect them to continue to lead the world in trading and industry around adult-use cannabis,” he said.