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Crown Royal Whisky Maker Eyes the Cannabis Industry

Crown Royal Whisky Maker Eyes the Cannabis Industry
PHOTO Dan Wiedbrauk


Crown Royal Whisky Maker Eyes the Cannabis Industry

Alcohol continues to anticipate entering the cannabis space.  

Nearly all of the major brewing companies have announced partnerships with influential cannabis firms aimed at developing THC-infused beverage lines to sell on the Canadian market. Alcohol companies, like Constellation Brands and Molson Coors, are no longer afraid to pledge their allegiance to the marijuana sector. These operations fully understand that getting in on this ganja game at this juncture is crucial to ensuring strong-arm market control when the United States finally ends prohibition once and for all. And their competitors across the pond are curious about what this sector could mean for them. A recent report from Bloomberg shows that the UK’s Diageo Plc, makers of Crown Royal Whisky and Guinness Beer, are also searching for opportunities to sell cannabis beverages to customers on the Canadian market.

Diageo, which is one of the strongest spirits manufacturers in the world, has met with at least three Canadian cannabis firms to discuss the possibility of putting their version of the cannabis cocktail on dispensary shelves.

A recent report from investment site The Motley Fool indicates that this deal, if it happens, will likely fall in the hands of one of these three prominent forces: Aphtia, Tilray or Aurora Cannabis. But so far, Diageo has refused to comment on this development. But a spokesperson for the company did tell the news source that although “we never comment on speculation… we are monitoring this space closely.”

While the concept of a “Crown Royal of Cannabis has not yet been confirmed, the fact that the company is taking meetings regarding this matter is a relatively good sign that it plans to move forward. Prior to the recent announcement of Molson Coors’ merger with Hydropothecary Corporation, CEO Mark Hunter told investors that, “We have assembled a team in Canada to actively explore the risks and opportunities of entering the cannabis space.” But he would not say whether it would actually happen. A month later, the company revealed that it was officially in the trenches and bringing a line of cannabis beverages to market in the near future. So, we expect Diageo will publicize its entry into the cannabis scene once the ink is dry.

Alcohol companies are using the cannabis industry to tap into a market they can use to compensate for the younger generation’s lack of interest in booze. A new survey from Berenberg Research found that 64 percent of the demographic classified Generation Z is drinking less alcohol than the generations that came before them. Even Millennials are drinking less than their alcohol-soaked predecessors. The majority of this group prefers the comforts of cannabis, according to researchers at The Tylt. The survey, which was published in April, shows that 88 percent of the Millennials generation believes that cannabis is safer than drinking beer, wine and hard liquor.

There is even a small body of evidence showing that binge drinking rates are on the decline in states that have legalized marijuana.

Needless to say, the booze sector has lost a chunk of its market share over the past decade due to these changing trends. It is for this reason that brewing giant Anheuser-Busch is making a push to expand its non-alcoholic beverage line. However, the company has not said whether it, too, plans to explore the cannabis space.

Legal cannabis is new and constantly changing. Years ago, most cannabis consumers smoked as their preferred method of consumption, even when the herb was classified for “medicinal use.” But now, cannabis edibles and beverages are taking over. The advent of healthier lifestyle choices is mostly responsible for the shift. Social acceptance is another factor.

Dooma Wendschuh, co-founder of Ontario- based Province Brands, a company set to produce a beer derived entirely from the cannabis plant, told CBC News that “Smoking has lost, and beverages are how we like to become altered.” And this seems to be true. The Canadian edibles market is predicted to reach $15 billion annually once it is fully operational sometime next year. That is nearly $10 billion more than the sale of raw flower is expected to generate when it launches in October.

TELL US, are you concerned about alcohol getting involved in the cannabis industry?

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