High time for a Marijuana beer brand?
Is Marijuana the next big thing for European beer?
As the world moves faster than it ever has before, more than ever, consumers are looking for the next big thing; new products, new flavours, and new experiences.
Beer drinkers are no different. The explosion of the craft category in the last 10 years has led to new flavours, brewing techniques, experiences and drinking habits, Beer drinkers have become more savvy and adventurous, and are no longer sticking to one brand or product type – they want range and depth as they experiment across the category.
Marijuana on a new high
Speaking of experimentation, a trend I have noticed of late is that marijuana is enjoying a renaissance in other markets, particularly in the US. Emerging from the black market and no longer confined to the medical space, there is an absolute smorgasbord of products to choose from – everything from marijuana infused bath salts and lip balms, to premium chocolates. If you’re in a particular part of the US, you can now enjoy your movie night with a packet of Pot Chips (perfect for a case of the ‘munchies’).
The value of the market
Where it gets really interesting is if you look at the potential value of the market. By 2019, the marijuana market in the US is projected to be valued at $10.2 billion in the US and $7.5 billion in Canada. There is a desire to change existing marijuana laws and to remove money from the black market and into the mainstream economy. Currently 29 states have legalized the drug, but if all 50 states were to move towards legalization, there is a potential to generate a massive $132 billion in tax revenue, along with an estimated 1 million jobs.
Which brings me nicely back to beer. These figures and the potential of marijuana haven’t gone unnoticed by the industry. To give it “first-mover advantage”, drinks giant Constellation Brands has bought a 10% stake in Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp for a reported £141 million, with plans to make cannabis-infused drinks. Their initial efforts will focus on non-alcoholic beverages. Currently, Federal law prohibits brewers from including THC (a psycho-active compound which is present in marijuana). However, Keith Villa, the man who helped to create the ‘Blue Moon’ beer brand, owned by MillerCoors, has managed to circumvent this law by producing a (as-of yet unnamed) beer that doesn’t contain alcohol. The beer will be infused with marijuana and is designed to mimic the effects of drinking a traditional beer.
With beer industry heavyweights like Constellation Brands and Keith Villa getting involved, we think this is a trend to be watched very closely. While it is a sector very much in its infancy, and European laws will hold things up on this side of the pond for a little longer, to me it feels very much like the early days of craft beer. And, we all know how that went!