Marijuana Pepsi Drink in the Works? CFO Hugh Johnston Eyeing Cannabis

Marijuana Pepsi in the Works? CFO Hugh Johnston Eyeing Cannabis

Last week, Coca-cola shocked the cannabis industry and consumers alike with its not so secret conversation with Aurora Cannabis. The soft drink giant made subtle hints that it was eying an entrance into the health and wellness side of marijuana. Today, Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston hinted that his company might be looking to follow suit and dive into this new, budding sector of the market. Could we see a marijuana Pepsi hit the market in green states?

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Hugh Johnston Cryptic but Interested in Marijuana Pepsi

Hugh Johnston made no commitments or announcements about a potential marijuana Pepsi drink hitting the shelves any time in the near future. The CFO did, however, state that cannabis has peaked his interest. He had this to say in an interview with CNBC.

“I think we’ll look at it critically, but I’m not prepared to share any plans that we may have in the space right now,”

In all likelihood, the soft drink company will not be looking to produce a psychoactive marijuana Pepsi beverage for the American recreational market. A number of hurdles stand in the way of large corporate entities pursuing cannabis, even in recreational states.

Cannabis is currently listed as schedule 1, meaning the federal government restricts access to the plant and scientific research in a number of ways. For companies that deal in marijuana, the main consequence of cannabis’ schedule 1 status is that they are forced to operate in a messy and dangerous cash-only economy. Therefore, for the American market, Pepsi is likely to go the Fabian way and delay, delay, delay.

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Is There a Way Foreword for Pepsi?

CFO of Pepsi
Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston has been cryptic in his statements about marijuana Pepsi (image via Boao Forum for Asia)

While the legalization of cannabis in the United States remains a messy, grassroots affair, not all cannabis products are schedule 1. The DEA recently made the announcement that CBD and hemp have been rescued from the DEA’s categorical wastebin.

CBD is the nonpsychoactive component in cannabis. It has been linked to a number of health benefits including reducing pain, chronic inflammation, and depression, and has been utilized effectively as a treatment for epilepsy, arthritis and a number of other conditions.

This is the same compound that Coca-cola expressed interest in utilizing in its speculated new product. Therefore, marijuana Pepsi might hit the shelves in the United States, but it won’t get you high.

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Not An Unprecedented Move

Weed being snipped
A number of other large non-cannabis companies have entered the legal marijuana industry. These have namely been alcohol giants

Marijuana Pepsi would not be the first cannabis product produced by a major, non-cannabis company. Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona recently made a $5 billion investment into the cannabis company Canopy Growth. Meanwhile, Molson, Heineken, and Anheuser Bush have also begun development of non-alcoholic cannabis-infused beers that will debut in places where cannabis is recreationally legal.

Global Markets?

With the legalization movement spreading abroad, non-American consumers might see a psychoactive marijuana Pepsi first. Canada is set for legalization October 17 and many are excited to get a slice of the 8 billion dollar cake. South Africa and Mexico made historic steps towards cannabis legalization earlier this year as well. These nations could represent lucrative opportunities for global cannabis for whoever is savvy enough to penetrate into these markets earliest.

By: Stefan Hosko
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