t’s 2019, and Big Alcohol wants in on legal pot — but only on its own terms. One by one, the largest beer companies in the world have announced their intention to create drinkable marijuana products. So brace yourself for an onslaught of alcohol-free weed beers and weed seltzers and weed fruit punches.
There’s only one problem: no one really wants or likes cannabis beverages. In legal adult-use marijuana markets, infused beverages make up a mere 2 to 3 percent of total sales. But the alcohol industry really and truly believes it can convince us that we want to consume weed the same way we consume alcohol, gulp by gulp. Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter has said drinks could soon make up 20 to 30 percent of cannabis sales. That’s right: he thinks he can increase demand for marijuana beverages by a factor of 10.
Last year, Molson Coors took a controlling stake in a joint venture with a licensed pot producer in Canada called HEXO. Anheuser-Busch InBev put $50 million toward a similar joint venture with the British Columbia-based Tilray. Heineken-owned Lagunitas already sells a hop-flavored, pot-infused sparkling water at California marijuana dispensaries, in partnership with Sonoma’s CannaCraft. And Constellation Brands, which includes Corona and Modelo, threw down nearly $4 billion — the biggest investment in the history of weed — on a 38 percent stake in the largest Canadian marijuana producer, Canopy Growth.