Could one of the world’s largest alcohol companies soon be infusing its beverages with cannabis?
Bloomberg caught up with the CEO of Constellation Brands — the #3 beer company in America, controlling imports including Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico — and he wasn’t exactly shy about the idea:
“We’re looking at it,” Constellation Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands said in an interview. “There are going to be alcoholic beverages that will also contain cannabis.”
America’s projected recreational market grew several fold this week with four states — most importantly, California — voting to allow non-medical sales, and it has executives like Sands salivating:
“Why wouldn’t big business, so to speak, be acutely interested in a category of that magnitude?” Sands said. “If there’s a lot of money involved, it’s not going to be left to small mom-and-pops.”
This could be seen as smartly pursuing a growing market, a reactionary move (importing Mexican beer to a customer base that’s 40% Hispanic could become a rocky proposition in Trump’s America), or simply hedging against recreational marijuana’s anticipated cannibalization of alcohol sales. Although, as Bloomberg notes, alcohol sales haven’t declined in Colorado or Washington since legalization in those states.
A more stubborn barrier for Constellation might be its reliance on the federal government for alcohol permits and licenses — a relationship that may not mesh with marijuana’s federal prohibition.
Cannabis-infused alcoholic beverage have hit shelves in the past (Leafly recently produced a roundup of “special” spirits), mostly to exploit a marketing opportunity and with mixed results. But never has a company Constellation’s size offered a cannabis-infused version of one of its well-known brands. We may be closer to that scenario than we think.