Coca-Cola cannabis-infused drink? CEO addresses rumors

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey on Tuesday dismissed rumors that the beverage giant is mulling an entrance into the legal cannabis industry, even as other beverage brands have explored cannabidiol (CBD)-infused drinks.

“We don’t have any plans at this stage to get into the space,” Quincey told analysts during an earnings call. "So that’s kind of where we are.”

Demand for products containing CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, has grown in recent years amid pushes in various jurisdictions to legalize pot. CBD product sales are expected to surpass $1 billion in 2018, according to the Hemp Business Journal.

Bloomberg reported last September that Coca-Cola was in talks with Aurora Cannabis, a Canada-based marijuana company, to develop a CBD-infused beverage. At the time, Coca-Cola said it was “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverage around the world,” but said “no decisions” were made on whether to partner with Aurora.

Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona beer, invested an additional $3.8 billion in Canopy Growth, another Canada-based pot manufacturer, while Molson Coors Brewing is developing cannabis-infused drinks in the country, Bloomberg reported. Canada legalized pot on the national level earlier this month.

Coca-Cola has sought to diversify its product offerings in recent months in order to boost sales. The company took a major stake in premium sports drink brand BodyArmor last August and agreed to buy U.K.-based Costa Coffee days later.

Coca-Cola topped quarterly sales and earnings estimates in its report on Tuesday, fueled in part by a turnaround in diet beverage sales.