- Coca-Cola is in discussions with Aurora Cannabis to develop beverages infused with CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
- Legal marijuana is set to hit $US75 billion in sales by 2030, according to a note from analysts at the investment bank Cowen.
- The market for marijuana could eventually eclipse soda sales.
Coca-Cola is reportedly eyeing the legal marijuana industry. The beverage maker is in discussions with Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian cultivator, to develop beverages infused with CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
Legal marijuana could soon become a bigger industry than soda, and it has already started putting pressure on alcohol sales, according to the investment bank Cowen. If marijuana is made legal nationwide in the US by 2030, the legal weed industry could generate $US75 billion in sales by that year.
Cowen’s cannabis sector analyst, Vivien Azer, revised her previous estimate up by $US25 billion. Legal marijuana sales are already around $US50 billion, Azer said in the note.
Soda consumption, on the other hand, is declining. Per capita consumption fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, Bloomberg reports, with $US76.4 billion in sales in 2017.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is linked to a range of health benefits and is used in FDA-approved epilepsy drugs. It’s also become something of a health-food boom as of late, showing up in products like teas, candies, and beverages.
Legal marijuana is already starting to impact alcohol sales as well.
In states that have legalised cannabis, binge-drinking rates have fallen 9% below the national average, and 11% below states that don’t allow the sale of recreational marijuana, according to the note. Adults in states with legal cannabis binge drink an average of 13% fewer times per month than those in states without legal recreational marijuana.
“This work builds on our prior assertions that cannabis acts as a substitute social lubricant for consumers,” Azer said in the note.
“As cannabis access expands, we expect further pressure on alcohol sales, given this notable divide in consumer consumption pattern,” she added.
The cannabis market is still far behind alcohol, however. Sales of alcohol hit $US210 billion in 2017, according to the note.
Plus, the market for marijuana will primarily be led by older consumers, as people 55 and over are the fastest-growing segment of marijuana shoppers, according to the note.
Nine states allow or will soon allow the sale and consumption of marijuana, representing almost a quarter of the US population.
Marijuana may also prove to be a tax windfall. The industry is expected to generate $US17.5 billion in tax revenue by 2030, according to the note.
Legal marijuana sales hit $US9.7 billion in sales in 2017, a number that does not include the industry in California, where recreational marijuana sales began on January 1, 2018. That state’s market is predicted to hit $US5.1 billion in sales by the end of 2019, outpacing beer sales.
There are still numerous challenges for the booming cannabis market. Marijuana is still considered an illegal, Schedule I substance by the federal government, and many plant-touching businesses don’t have access to traditional banks so can’t open lines of credit.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a noted opponent of increasing access to marijuana, and he rescinded Obama-era protections for that limited the federal government’s interference with cannabis businesses.
Read more of our cannabis industry coverage:
- The rising stars of marijuana’s investment scene that everyone from Wall Street to Silicon Valley should know
- The highest-valued marijuana companies of 2017 reveal 2 key insights about the booming industry
- A startup that runs marijuana dispensaries is America’s first $US1 billion marijuana ‘unicorn’
- A hedge fund that focuses solely on marijuana is crushing it
- A New York hedge fund manager moved to Canada and started the first marijuana company to be listed on a major US stock exchange – here’s how he did it
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