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More brewers are investing in cannabis-related beverages in the U.S. and Canada 

The future of cannabis has been scaring major breweries ever since they've seen the market data on consumption after Colorado and Washington first legalized recreational marijuana.Millenials are decidedly choosing pot over beer and spirits, leading to Corona's distributing company, Constellation Brands, to invest $245 million last October in a Canadian company that looks to create cannabis-infused drinks.

click to enlarge Lagunitas has partnered with absoluteXtracts to create an ale brewed with cannabis terpenes.
  • Lagunitas has partnered with absoluteXtracts to create an ale brewed with cannabis terpenes.

And with Canada's recent pot legalization, Molson Coors is planning on joining the fray for weed-beer supremacy, as they've announced partnership with Canadian cannabis producer the Hydropothecary Corp to begin working on a nonalcoholic drink containing THC.

Cannabis will be considered legal in Canada starting in October, but edibles and beverages won't be sold until 2019. "We believe the merger of the cannabis and beverage industries hold great potential for investors looking to reap the benefits of innovation in the space," Toronto-based analysis group Beacon Securities wrote in an open letter commenting on the move.

This all comes after news that Molson Coors, the second largest U.S. brewer, fell to a four-year low in share value after it reported a 3.8 percentage loss in volume. Cannabis analyst Vivien Azer found that states where weed has been recreationally legal have seen a 13 percent decrease in binge drinking per month.

"As cannabis access expands, we expect further pressure on alcohol sales, given this notable divide in consumer consumption pattern," Azer said.

Craft beer darling Lagunitas have dipped their toes in the process, creating a beverage that takes advantage of the aromatic flavors of terpenes found in both cannabis and hops to create a beverage profile, though it contains no THC.

The THC-infused beer that Molson Coors and Corona are looking to perfect is said to be a dryer, less sweet flavor than your traditional beer. And according to the scientists and brewers working on the product, the infused drink's high is supposed to hit quicker than traditional edibles already in the marketplace. The biggest point of research and investment is figuring out what level of THC will impact a typical drinker the way one beer with alcohol would.

The entrance of a nonalcoholic beer could be a welcome addition, considering the effects of binge drinking seen already in younger generations. The British Medical Journal recently found a 65 percent increase in cirrhosis deaths from 1999 to 2016, with the largest increase coming from victims at the age of 25-34. Perhaps weed could be the option to give the liver a break. ♦

The original print version of this article was headlined "The Brewing Weed and Beer War"

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