Molson Coors announced on Wednesday that it plans to produce non-alcoholic beverages infused with cannabis in Canada. The company intends to begin offering the drinks in 2019 when commercial cannabis food and beverages become legal.
Molson Coors said that its Canadian division will establish a partnership with cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corp. to develop and market a beverage infused with cannabis. The drink will not contain alcohol.
Frederic Landtmeters, the president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada, said in a statement that the company is taking advantage of new markets created by the legalization of cannabis.
“Canada is breaking new ground in the cannabis sector 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,” Landtmeters said.
Molson Coors will own a 57.5 percent controlling interest in the partnership, with Hydropothecary owning the remaining stake.
Molson Coors Brewing Co. is based in the state of Colorado, where recreational marijuana use and sales of cannabis have been legal since 2014. Canada recently became the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis. Retail sales of marijuana flower and some cannabis products will be legally available for purchase in October of this year.
No Edibles in Canada This Year
But critics of Bill C-45, as Canada’s marijuana legalization statute is known, say the new law is marred by its lack of inclusion of edible and drinkable products. According to an official government notice, approval of such products is forthcoming.
“The Government has indicated that it intends to add cannabis edible products and cannabis concentrates to the list of products permitted for legal sale following the coming into force of the proposed legislation, once appropriate regulatory controls are developed,” the notice reads.
To comply with a provision of Bill C-45, such action must take place within one year of the passage of the legislation.
“As per the amendment adopted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, the sale of cannabis edible products and concentrates would be authorized no later than 12 months following the coming into force of the proposed legislation,” the notice continues. “By that time, regulations would be made to address the specific risks associated with these types of products.”
The posting from the federal government explains that while the legalization of edibles is within the spirit and intent of Bill C-45, creating rules for such products is more complex than establishing regulations for the rest of the cannabis industry.
“Permitting the legal sale of these types of cannabis products will be important in achieving the government’s overall objectives of protecting the health and safety of Canadians, and displacing the illegal market that profits criminals and organized crime” the government adds. “However, experience from other jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for non-medical purposes has demonstrated that these products pose unique health and safety risks. It is important that the Government take the time necessary to enact appropriate regulatory controls to address these novel risks.”
Under the law, regulations for cannabis edibles and drinkables must be approved by late 2019.