Brewers, once seemingly intimidated by the marijuana industry, are now increasingly looking at how they can join in.
One of the biggest conspiracy theories to fester on the surface of American commerce throughout the past several decades pertaining to marijuana prohibition is that the alcohol industry and its faceless lobbyists have been throwing their weight around on Capitol Hill to prevent any bill aimed at legalizing the leaf from ever seeing the light of day.
But now, it is no longer accurate to call this deep-pocketed defense against legal weed a conspiracy theory. It is gospel. A number of statewide legislation efforts from California to Massachusetts have brought out the beasts of booze with rabid enthusiasm — several alcohol companies each contributing tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to foil initiatives designed to dig marijuana out of the underground.
As Hustler Magazine Publisher Larry Flynt said back in 2016, just as he signed on as an investor in the publicly traded cannabis firm Pineapple Express, “the alcohol industry doesn’t want the competition” because marijuana “would clearly put a major dent” in their profits.
And make a dent it has.
While marijuana is legal for recreational use in only nine states across the U.S, pot sales are now generating around $9 billion. Sure, the cannabis scene has a long way to go before it can truly be considered a hammer-fisted contender against the alcohol industry’s $350 billion share. But binge drinking is down in legal marijuana states. And as far as Big Alcohol is concerned — a dollar spent on cannabis is a dollar lost.
Then there are the threatening reports that keep showing up from time to time, predicting that the alcohol trade is about to suffer a major amputation at the hands of legal cannabis. Wall Street analysts Cowen & Company has been warning investors for years that booze is about to take a massive hit due to marijuana legalization.
Most recently, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce came forward with data showing that Canadians will spend more on weed than alcohol once the country goes fully legal. And then, just last week, Canada went legal, which has reportedly set the cannabis industry into go-mode. Now, the big dogs of booze have seemingly subscribed to the old political adage, “if you can’t beat em’, join em,” migrating north to sink their teeth into, what they consider, their fair share of the inebriation market.
Molson Coors Brewing Company, the second largest beer-slinger in the world, is reportedly giving some serious consideration to joining the Canadian cannabis trade.
A recent report from Bloomberg indicates that the company could be stealing a chapter from one of its competitors, Constellation Brands, investing a significant amount of money into the development of THC-infused beers. The goal behind this mission, according to a source close to the situation, is to create a “high-quality product that isn’t going to embarrass them.”
The brewing giant is not looking to dabble in doobies either — it wants to develop a cannabis beverage, one that can be enjoyed in the same way as people do with beer, that also has the potential to flourish on a large scale.
But before the company makes a move on this endeavor, it wants to be sure it is safe.
“We have assembled a team in Canada to actively explore the risks and opportunities of entering the cannabis space in that market, where it will be federally legal by this fall,” Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter told investors earlier this month.
Although Molson Coors is being somewhat coy about its plans to weasel into the legal weed scene, failure to do so could result in an economic lashing of immense proportions.
As we mentioned previously, Constellation Brands, the third largest beer producer on the planet, has already sunk around $200 million into the development of cannabis-infused beers. It plans to hit the ground running with its THC brews when the country opens up to the edibles sector sometime in 2019. It is then that the Canadian cannabis industry is expected to pick up some real speed. Some of the latest data from Deloitte shows that the sale of cannabis-infused edibles and beverages will catapult a $5 billion market to somewhere around $22 billion annually.
It is worth mentioning that none of the THC-infused concoctions — not those produced by Constellation and not the ones being considered by Molson — are going to be sold on the U.S. market, at least not yet. The water-cooler consensus among market analysts is that the alcohol industry is planning to use Canada’s plunge into nationwide pot commerce to gauge just how lucrative it will be for them to manufacture and sell THC beverages.
These companies will then, in turn, use this vital information to stack the deck once weed goes fully legal across the United States, flexing their political power as one of the nation’s most influential industries to take back lost profits from the cannabis industry. Ah, yes, another conspiracy theory. Or is it?
Beer makers are already being instructed how to go after cannabis consumers. In fact, industry experts have been brewer that cannabis customers are their target demographic. During a recent Beer Institute conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jessica Lukas, vice president of consumer insights at BDS Analytics, said, “the vast majority of cannabis consumers consume alcohol, and they’re more likely to consume alcohol than non-cannabis consumers. These people are already your consumers.”
TELL US, would you drink a beer infused with cannabis?