06:52 GMT26 January 2021
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    Soda giant Coca-Cola announced on Monday that it's keeping tabs on the marijuana-infused drinks market after it was reported that the company was talking with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis.

    Though not interested in getting folks high, the Atlanta-based soda company did indicate that it was interested in the use of cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain and anxiety.

    "We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis," the Coca-Cola statement reads. "Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world."

    "The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time," the announcement added.

    The company issued the statement following reports from BNN Bloomberg that suggested Coca-Cola was in "serious talks" with Aurora to create a cannabis-infused beverage. Citing anonymous sources, the publication noted that beverages would be meant to "ease inflammation, pain and cramping."

    One source suggested that the talks were "pretty advanced down the path" toward a finished deal between the two companies. "It's going to be more of the ‘recovery drink' category," they said.

    Heather MacGregor, spokesperson for Aurora, steered away from discussing the unconfirmed deal with BNN Bloomberg, instead indicating that Aurora does have some interest in such a project.

    "As a rule, we do not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized, however, we have responsibility to our shareholders to give proper consideration to all relevant opportunities that are presented," she said.

    According to Reuters, the shift in corporations considering dipping their toes into the marijuana industry comes after Canada approved the drug for recreational use in June.

    "While there are opportunities in certain states in the US for Coke to develop and sell a product, it would put their banking relationships at jeopardy," Bruce Campbell, a portfolio manager at Stonecastle Investment Management who has invested in marijuana producers, told Reuters.

    "Entry into a legalized Canadian market allows them to develop and build a brand while not breaking any laws."

    News of the potential project comes after Coca-Cola acquired British coffee chain Costa Coffee in late August for $5.1 billion. Coca-Cola shook on the deal after PepsiCo spread its own wings in August and scooped up SodaStream for $3.2 million. Experts suggest that PepsiCo could follow in Coca-Cola's footsteps.


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