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Ready or not, cannabis may be in your future

“There’s a whole new way of livin’

Pepsi helps supply the drive.

It’s got a lot to give

for those who like to live

‘cause Pepsi helps them

come alive.” Ellen M. Reimer of Appleton, Wisconsin, may have been more than half a century premature. She entered and won a slogan contest sponsored by PepsiCo. The company wanted a new message for its potential customers, and Ms. Reimer’s winning entry was, “Come Alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation.” The year was 1963 and, indeed, the consumers of the next decade or more were definitely a different generation from previous cohorts.

Over the next 20 years, Coca-Cola lost a considerable share of the soft-drink market to PepsiCo. So, in 1985, the company introduced New Coke, which was a spectacular failure. Within three months, it reintroduced the original product, renaming it “Classic Coke.” Then, not much changed for several years, except for the increasing acceptance of “diet” varieties of soda.

As we entered the 21st Century, however, soda consumers have been switching to non-sugary drinks. Consequently, companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been branching out and expanding into other markets, like juice, snacks, tea, and mineral water. Still, according to Kate Taylor, writing for Business Insider, in 2006 “soda sales by volume declined in the United States for the first time in 20 years.” That was the beginning of a trend that has continued to the present. According to Beverage Digest, in 2017 alone, Coke and Pepsi sales fell by 2 percent and 4.5 percent respectively. Now, along comes CBD to kick-start the sales engines.

CBD to the rescue

According to Josh Hafner of USA Today, “Soft drink titan Coca-Cola is ‘closely watching’ the market for drinks infused with cannabidiol, or CBD, the chemical in marijuana believed to relieve pain and anxiety.” He notes that interest in cannabidiol-based drinks is rapidly increasing, possibly because the ingredient doesn’t produce the “high” that comes from another marijuana ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

As of early 2018, 29 states plus the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Moreover, all of the West Coast states, as well as Nevada, Colorado, and Hawaii, have completely legalized pot, and some Northeast states are following the lead. If marijuana or any of its 200 ingredients (particularly CBD) become acceptable nationwide, the soft-drink giants just might jump in with both feet.

Bonnie Herzog, an investment analyst for Wells Fargo, has been looking at the interest that Coca-Cola has been showing in Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian company. She says that a deal between the two corporations could “broaden the reach of cannabis-infused beverages into functional wellness categories.” She concludes that “CBD investments are in line with both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s increasing interest in up-and-coming wellness beverages, like sparkling water and kombucha.” (Kombucha is a fermented, sweetened green tea or black tea that is promoted as a health drink. However, it has not caught on with a significant share of the market.) Beer, too?

Jen Skerritt writes in, “There’s a new craft beer in town, and this one offers a different kind of buzz.” But, if you’re a Californian, don’t get too excited just yet. Although Cannabiniers is located in San Diego and — according to its own estimation — will produce the first line of “de-alcoholized craft beer” infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, it is intended for sale in Nevada. But, don’t despair.

Two Roots Brewing Company is launching its cannabis beers, which include a stout, a lager, and a West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale), in Nevada. However Kevin Love, director of product development, claims that the beer will soon be available in California. According to Skerritt, Love says that the beer will contain 2.5 milligrams of THC, “enough that the consumer can feel its effects within five to seven minutes, but small enough that a person could drink multiple beers in one sitting.”

Producers of the craft beers, of course, are jockeying for position when the doors open to mainstream brands. But, although the major beer brewers seem to be playing their cards close to their chests, it is known that last year Constellation, which produces Corona beer among its other products, bought a minority stake in Canopy Growth Corporation, Canada’s biggest marijuana producer. Blue Moon Brewing has announced its intention to offer a line of cannabis-infused beer. And Coors is also hinting that it may enter the market.

But, is pot good for you?

Although there are certainly health risks from heavy use and a demand from the medical community for more research, there are some well-established benefits of marijuana. According to an article written by David Railton for Medical News Today and fact-checked by Jasmin Collier, here are the findings:

• Chronic pain. A review of 10,000 studies by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine claims that products containing cannabinoids are effective in relieving chronic pain.

• Addiction. The Clinical Psychology Review claims that marijuana may help people with alcohol or opioid dependencies fight their addictions. But, overuse can be harmful, according to the National Academies of Sciences.

• Depression. Although there are mixed findings, depending on the source, it appears that controlled use of marijuana’s ingredients can help with depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, bipolar disorders, and some forms of psychosis.

• Cancer. Studies show that the use of cannabinoids are effective against the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. And some studies suggest that the drugs may either slow down or kill some types of cancer.

• Multiple sclerosis. Short-term use can relieve the symptoms of spasticity, but long-term effects have been modest.

• Epilepsy. This past June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of CBD to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy. The 120 children treated with a purified form of CBD experienced half as many seizures as those who received a placebo (sugar pill).

One thing to keep in mind is that all of the studies that show the benefits of marijuana or some of its ingredients were done under laboratory conditions using the scientific method to measure results. Simply consuming the compound without supervision may actually be harmful. As stated by the medical community, more research is needed. “It’s the Pepsi Generation

Comin’ at ya,

goin’ stong…

Put yourself behind a Pepsi

When you’re livin’…

you belong.”

• • •

Jim Glynn may be contacted at

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