Molson launching cannabis drinks in Canada by December, 2019.
Molson Coors Brewing Company, best known as the maker of Coors Light beer, plans to move into Canada’s legal cannabis market this year. The company is teaming up with Quebec-based Hexo Corp to create a line of non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused drinks. Hexo Corp is already a big player in the Canadian cannabis industry, creating cannabis products for the medical and adult-use markets.
The collaboration, which the companies have dubbed “Truss,” will create many different varieties of non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages. Jay McMillan, Hexo’s vice president of strategic development, says he expects Molson cannabis drinks to be available for purchase when cannabis beverages become legal in Canada on December 16th.
McMillan spoke about Molson cannabis beverages at the World Cannabis conference in New Brunswick this month. “We’ll have a very large supply so we’ll be in a good position to be able to meet the demand of the marketplace and at the same time also ensure that we’re meeting the variety that the marketplace wants,” he said of the diversity of drinks and scale of the project.
Truss is developing products ranging from cannabis water to non-alcoholic cannabis beer, and even considering hot drinks.
Creating New Cannabis Products Can Be a Guessing Game
One of the biggest challenges Molson cannabis drinks will face is uncertainty. Cannabis beverages have been sold for several years in US states with legal cannabis programs, but data on what consumers are likely to buy is limited at this point.
There has been some criticism of cannabis drinks already available, which McMillan says Truss wants to avoid. Complaints have included long activation time and “tasting like ‘bong water.’” Truss says they have designed their line of beverages to be flexible, so they can refocus their efforts if one product isn’t selling well.
Major brands may be taking their time moving into the cannabis industry. However, one stipulation of the new law is that “alcohol-related” terms, like wine and beer, can’t be used to sell cannabis products. That doesn’t mean that these products won’t be available, though. “You’re going to have to call it a cannabis-infused yeast extract,” the executive director of the Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance noted during a panel discussion.
Products that are already available in legal US states are likely to inspire new products on the Canadian market. Once Canada opens the door for edibles, beverages, vape pens, and topicals, this December, residents may see some of the following cannabis drinks available.
CBD enhanced water is already available in the US, which made the non-psychoactive ingredient legal earlier this year. Oki Enhanced Water currently ships to all 50 states, and offers flavored options like watermelon and cranberry. Love Hemp Water is available in the UK, which allows CBD products from EU-approved hemp. Champ Energy Water, a US brand, offers a line of activated flavored water, and also has several CBD-infused drink products.
Soda companies are also already taking advantage of the U.S. lifting the CBD ban. American CBD company, A2FLY, has released CBD sodas in flavors like cereal crunch, honeydew melon, and ginger ale. If you’re looking for something with more kick, however, check out Mirth Legal sodas. The THC-infused drinks are available in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Massachusetts. Flavors include pomegranate, lemon ginger and espresso mocha.
Tea & Coffee
Molson Cannabis’ producers are considering tea and coffee products, but several companies are already working in this market. Level+ cold brew has CBD and THC-infused option in legal US states. Cannabis legend Willie Nelson founded CBD-infused coffee brand Willie’s Remedy, which currently ships within the US. Colorado brand Stillwater Beverages offers THC-infused mint and green teas, as well as THC & CBD-infused instant coffee.
Wine & Beer
The California market already has several brands of cannabis wine available, including Rebel Coast and CannaVines, which offer red and white wines infused with cannabis. Two Roots Brewing makes infused beer for dispensaries in California and Nevada. Former Miller-Coors brewmaster Keith Villa founded Ceria Beverages, which brews cannabis-infused non-alcoholic beer for the Colorado market. It’s likely Canadians will see more non-alcoholic cannabis drinks than alcoholic once the new law comes into effect in December. Regulations are still being worked out.
The Tinley Beverage Company currently provides its cannabis-infused mixed drinks, like margaritas and Moscow mules, to dispensaries in California. The brand already has plans to move into the new Canadian market. However, the “no alcohol-related terms” regulation will force them to rebrand products with names like “stone daisy” and “high horse.” Tinley’s Head of Product Development has expressed concerns that this rebranding may affect sales.
Molson Cannabis Drinks Won’t Be the Only Competition
Truss will be entering into a competitive new market when Canada legalizes the products in December. Molson is hardly the only company moving into the cannabis beverage industry. Most notably, Constellation Brands, makers of Corona, have partnered with cannabis giant, Canopy Growth. Companies already operating in the American market, like Tinley, will also make moves into Canada’s new legal industry. Competition will be tough, and only the market will tell which brands have the innovation to stand out.