Molson Coors To Sell Cannabis Drinks In Canada

By Benjie Cooper

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Toronto-based Molson Coors announced Wednesday that it would be entering into a joint venture with Canadian cannabis company The Hydropothecary Corporation (HEXO) to produce and sell alcohol-free cannabis drinks as marijuana legalization fully engages in the country.

Legal adults will be able to purchase smoked and vaporized forms of marijuana in October, but edibles and other ingestible cannabis products aren’t expected to be available for sale until sometime in 2019.

Molson Coors will gain a 57.5 percent controlling stake in the project, and HEXO will retain ownership of the rest.

“Canada is breaking new ground in the cannabis sector,” said Molson Coors CEO Frederic Landtmeters in a statement. “And as one of the country’s leading beverage companies, Molson Coors Canada has a unique opportunity to participate in this exciting and rapidly expanding consumer segment.”

The move comes as other alcohol companies like Constellation Brands and Heineken are dipping their toes into the cannabis pool in the midst of declining alcohol sales in the ever-growing list of legal locales.

“The cannabis revolution is in full swing while the alcohol industry appears to be largely sitting on the fence, drink in hand, occasionally throwing crumpled cans in the general direction of the ongoing legalization debate,” alcoholic drinks industry analyst Spiros Malandrakis told The Drinks Business. “Visibly intimidated, insular, and inherently conservative, large parts of the alcohol industry acknowledge and highlight the dangers to their penetration rates and profitability, but largely fail to see the huge potential behind the plumes of hazy smoke.”

The deal between Molson Coors and HEXO is expected to be completed by the end of September.