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Anheuser Kush? Beer Giant To Invest $100 Million in Developing Marijuana-Infused Drinks

The annoucement marks a continuing trend in major beverage companies dipping into the cannabis market.

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The world’s largest brewer has decided to begin the process of evaluating where it might fit into the growing cannabis market.

BRUNO FAHY | Getty Images

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgium-based multinational company, has partnered with Canadian cannabis company Tilray to research the possibilities of cannabis-infused drinks in the market.

The two companies will contribute $50 million each into the research, which will focus on the use of THC and cannabinoids (CBD) in non-alcoholic drinks. THC is the chemical ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling. CBD does not offer the psychoactive effects but is believed to provide health value.

Related: This Week in Weed: The Dallas Cannabis Club??


Canada's first on tap

The focus of the two companies research will be in Canada. Both adult-use and medical marijuana are legal there nationwide as of October 2018. The companies will work through two subsidiaries on the project -- AB InBev’s Labatt Breweries and Tilray’s High Park Company.

Labatt Breweries has stayed in business since its founding in Ontario in 1847, which is quite an accomplishment given all the competition. Labatt president Kyle Norrington said the brewing company “is committed to staying ahead of emerging consumer trends.”

He added, “We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.”.

AB InBev is the biggest brewer in the world. They produce about one-third of the beer made worldwide. That includes three global brands: Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, as well as Beck’s, Hoegaarden and Leffe. They also own a ton of smaller brands, some of the best-known including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Modelo Especial.

The company employs about 180,000 people in 50 countries.

Related: Inside Mayor de Blasio's Vision for Legal Cannabis in New York City


Cannabis-infused beverages are the rage

While AB InBev is clearly the biggest brewer to begin looking into the cannabis-infused beverage market, they are far from the first. In fact, it’s not even the first foray into the market for them.

In Oregon, the multinational company reportedly owns a 31.4 percent stake in the Craft Brew Alliance, which has announced it will experiment with CBD-infused beverages.

Other companies involved with cannabis and drink include Constellation Brands, which has bought an interest in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp., the largest publicly traded cannabis company.

Related: One of the World's Biggest Wine-and-Beer Makers Has Made a Huge Move Into Cannabis

Molson Coors also has entered the cannabis-infused drink market. The Denver-based company is operating the new venture through Molson Coors Canadian, which has partnered with Canadian cannabis company The Hydropothecary Corporation to create non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.

These moves are happening as many expect legal cannabis to impact beer sales, possibly causing them to significantly drop. However, many believe there is a future in beverage companies providing cannabis-infused beverages to offset the loss in alcohol sales.

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