Are cannabis beverages shaping up to be the next big thing? On Wednesday, AB InBev, the makers of Budweiser, announced that they are teaming up with Canadian company Tilray to do research on creating cannabis-infused drinks.
According to CNN Business, the two companies are poised to invest $100 million into this new project. The plan is to create and market non-alcoholic beverages that include cannabis elements. This could prove to be a major game-changer for both companies, in light of the rising tide of marijuana legalization throughout Canada and many American states.
"We intend to develop a deeper understanding... that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities," Kyle Norrington, president of AB InBev's Canadian subsidiary, Labatt Breweries, said in a statement.
The announcement has already proved a powerful benefit for both companies on the financial front. Tilray's stock rose by about 13 percent premarket on Thursday after the official announcement. The company specializes in creating medical cannabis products for the Canadian market.
Tilray also recently announced that it has formed a partnership with Novartis. The Swiss pharmaceutical company will work with Tilray to create -- and sell -- medicinal pot products internationally.
This partnership with Tilray could be the boost Budweiser has been looking for. Recent years have seen sales for the beverage giant fall considerably. The growing popularity of artisanal microbrews and craft beers have significantly hurt Budweiser, which has seen its mass-produced brands fall by the wayside as a result.But Budweiser isn't the only beverage company looking to cash in on the popularity of cannabis. Constellation Brands, which owns the popular beer Corona, recently invested billions into Canada Growth, another marijuana business located in Canada.
Unlike Budweiser, however, Constellation Brands intends to combine alcohol with cannabis in some of their beverages. They're also looking to promote the medicinal effects of cannabis in their drinks, including the possibility of creating a calorie-free drink capable of battling depression symptoms.
While these are all promising developments for the emerging cannabis beverage industry, it could be a while before Americans get to sample the results. As of this writing, Budweiser intends to focus its efforts solely on the Canadian market, where marijuana is legal. This could change, however, as laws regarding the purchase and use of cannabis in the United States continue to evolve.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 U.S. states, including California and Colorado. 10 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. The most recent addition to that list is Michigan, who approved their ballot measure regarding the subject during the November midterm elections.