The King of Beers wants to be the King of Weed, too. AB InBev, the parent company of Anheuser-Busch, has announced a partnership with marijuana producer Tilray to begin researching non-alcoholic beverages that contain THC and CBD, the two most prominent chemicals in marijuana.
For now, even if the research does yield a product from the companies, its distribution will be limited to Canada. AB-InBev will participate via its Candaian subsidiary Labatt Breweries.
“Labatt is committed to staying ahead of emerging consumer trends,” said Kyle Norrington, president of Labatt Breweries of Canada in a statement. “We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities. We look forward to learning more about these beverages and this category in the months ahead.”
Big Beer’s move into the world of cannabis echoes that of Big Tobacco. Earlier this month, Altria Group, which owns brands like Marlboro and Skoal, invested $8.1 billion into a Canadian cannabis firm. In both cases, the industry giants are seeing the growth in marijuana legalization as a potential threat to their core businesses and are taking steps to incorporate it where possible.
AB InBev is hardly the first brewer to explore cannabis. Last year, Heineken-owned Lagunitas unveiled an IPA made with cannabis (stripping out the psychoactive THC chemicals ) And last June Colorado’s Dude’s Brew last June got federal approval to bottle and sell “General Washington’s Secret Stash,” a cannabis-infused line of beers that use an extract from sativa stalk and stems (but, like Lagunitas’ offering, does not have any THC).
For now, the maker of Budweiser isn’t looking to include weed in its beers. But, as the legalization movement continues to gain strength, it’s certainly possible that, at some point, the definition of a good beer buzz could be a bit different than it is today.