This week another beverage giant, Coca-Cola, has shown interest in possibly partnering with Aurora Cannabis in order to develop various weed-infused beverages. While nothing has been verified by either company, they have both made statements confirming that they are thinking about pursuing this business opportunity. Even though no solid agreements were made, this didn’t stop Aurora’s stock prices from soaring today. It saw an increase of 12% when the news of this partnership first broke. Both companies have hinted that they will be producing beverages that are more focused on approving health then getting stoned. CBD seems to be the main focus of Coca-Cola, at least for the time being. They mentioned that the non-psychoactive compound is already being used in beverages across the world for health benefits and that they are monitoring this closely. It is likely that they are focusing on this instead of THC infused drinks because recreational marijuana is not yet legal in Canada or the U.S. There will also be a period of time after it is legalized next month where stores will not yet be operating. So it makes sense to first focus heavily on the already existing medical marijuana industry.
If this partnership were to happen, it would be the first time a major non-alcoholic drink producer entered into the cannabis market. This is shortly after the major $4 billion investment Constellation Brands made in Canopy Growth, Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer. A lot of investments and partnerships are being considered as we come closer and closer to recreational marijuana in Canada. Alcohol producer Molson-Coors had already announced earlier this year that they plan to produce cannabis-infused drinks with Hydropothecary. I would be willing to bet there will be more partnerships made by companies that have no existing relationship with cannabis. As long as a corporation has the existing infrastructure to easily produce a cannabis-related product or service, the possibility exists. Coke would have to invest little to nothing into their existing bottling and distribution centers. They would just need to source CBD or other cannabinoids and simply add it into the existing production process.
Cannabis infused drinks, if priced competitively, are extremely popular among cannabis consumers and patients. It is a great way to consume cannabis without the harms of smoking or eating unhealthy infused sweets. Most popular edibles that are produced have lots of fat and sugar. The target market for these new types of drinks would be the more health-conscious consumer. That is as long as Coca-Cola doesn’t decide to produce marijuana-infused drinks that are as bad for you as drinking coke. I think it would be a much smarter move to create a drink with much less sugar and caffeine. After all, they are planning on producing a beverage aimed at improving health. If they are successful at accomplishing this, they may even be able to reduce the negative stigma associated with their popular brand name.
Both companies have made it clear that there is absolutely zero guarantee that this merger will happen despite the great opportunity. Having an enormous corporation like Coca-Cola on Aurora’s team would put it in a better position to compete with Canopy Growth. They also probably will be developing marijuana-infused beverages with the knowledge and expertise Constellation Brands brings to the table. Both Coca-Cola and Aurora saw a rise in their stock value without any solid plans being announced. Imagine what type of increase they would see if a merger is confirmed, or if Aurora was able to expand to the United States. There is great opportunity ahead for Canada’s biggest medical marijuana producers.
The drug that was given approval this week, is a liquid medicine treatment derived from CBD-dominant strains that have been cultivated by GW Pharmaceuticals. There have been sufficient clinical trials to prove that it significantly reduces the number of seizures suffered by epileptic patients. Nothing related to the cannabis plant has ever come close to approval from an entity as important as the FDA. The closest thing to marijuana that has been approved by the FDA is a synthetic version of THC called dronabinol. It is a man-made version of tetrahydrocannabinol and is not derived from any natural plants. Its prescribed to cancer patients suffering from nausea as a result of chemotherapy. This ruling is a much larger step in the right direction because in order for it to be marketed to patients with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, it must be rescheduled by the DEA. CBD still currently holds a schedule 1 status preventing it from being prescribed to patients. The Drug Enforcement Agency is expected to do so within 90 days due to the scientific confirmation of its effectiveness through numerous trials.
I believe this is going to start a wave of cannabis-based medicines being introduced into the pharmaceutical environment. People are going to see the acceptance of Epidiolex as an open door to try and treat other ailments using derivatives from the plant. The Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies can not make money off something that can be grown from a seed so none of these medicines will be cannabis in its natural form. In the case of epileptic patients, especially children, smoking the buds from plants is not a viable option. Children suffering from these awful diseases will no longer have to fear criminal punishment on top of trying to just live a somewhat functional life. Patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome have an average life expectancy of 8 years (National Institute of Health).
The other disease that this drug can soon be prescribed for is Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. According to the LGS Foundation, one clinical trial at New York University showed a 47% of patients showed a 50% reduction in seizures after 3 months of treatment. It’s also important to mention that 9% of these people were actually seizure free at that time frame. This is just incredible that it is actually eliminating seizures altogether for certain patients. Results like these are backed up by many other studies that show even higher numbers of participants seeing a large reduction in the number of their seizures. The DEA should see rescheduling CBD as a number one priority for these children. With limited years to live and any seizure having the potential to be their last, officials need to act fast to provide a reliable source of the medication. It will be treated like any other prescribed drug and can be picked up from local pharmacies, not compassion centers or dispensaries.
Traditional medical marijuana dispensaries offer a variety of extracts that could work well with seizures as well. The only difference is they have not been given the attention from government officials that Epidiolex received likely due to its non-psychoactive properties and its easy to use liquid consistency. Patients will be able to ingest the medicine by the use of a dropper for precise dosing. This can be done anywhere without drawing any attention that smoking marijuana brings. It’s also possible that there will be additional medical uses approved by the FDA for this exact same drug with no chemical changes being made. Its unique features give it a higher potential of being approved than other new and existing marijuana medicines that may be tested by the FDA.
Many of us cannabis consumers have no problem paying a premium price for a product that is significantly more potent then normal. On the flip side, CBD-only producers and distributors have proven people are willing to pay top dollar for the non-psychoactive variety of medicine. There is no doubt that these types of products extracted from the hemp plant has many uses in the medical world just like dried cannabis flowers do. However, I was completely shocked to learn the prices these companies were advertising this natural product for. To be clear, there is absolutely zero euphoria or uplifting qualities to these edibles and oils. At the same time, people find it helps them relax at night and fall to sleep easier without any noticeable areas of pain. It also has a relatively short list of negative side effects when compared to man made medicine. These include: low blood pressure, dry mouth, and sometimes drowsiness.
Despite the positive benefits CBD can offer to patients with different aliments, it is no competition for the plant in it’s natural form containing all the cannabinoids. All patients that benefit from the effects of CBD would also benefit from the effects of THC because they balance each other out so much better then when either is isolated on it’s own. The CBD market is limited to those who can’t consume cannabis because it’s illegal as well as children, who nobody wants getting high. There are also those who fear failing a drug test and losing their job in an unstable economy. CBD is an attractive product for these groups of people with medical problems. There is a much larger market for people who want to really have a euphoric and enjoyable experience, one worth their hard earned money. So how much are these people selling CBD oils and gummies for exactly?
There were definitely variety and price differences among distributors like with any manufactured product on the market, but all remained within a rather small ballpark. For a bag of infused gummy bears the most competitive price I could find was $20 for a relatively large bag. It would probably be enough to get you through a couple days, but that would be the extent of it. Imagine spending $20 every few days. Even for medicine that provides great relief, most people would think twice about that price tag. The Oils are not cheap either and depending on amount of milligrams of CBD and milliliters of fluid, range from $20-$60 a dropper. They are probably your best budget option though, as the edibles wouldn’t last nearly as long as dropping a few drops every time you dose. You could purchase a traditional edible for $10 that would likely be an extremely strong dose capable of splitting into at least two separate sessions. Not only would it be euphoric, but extremely effective at helping someone sleep for hours uninterrupted.
The way CBD is currently being priced, it’s pretty clear that if you have safe access to cannabis products to choose them over CBD products for medical purposes. You will be spending a similar if not smaller amount each month on your medication and are likely to be less stressed along the way. Unless you really don’t like the feeling mary jane gives you, I suggest sticking to the flowers.