Earlier this week, several major news outlets (CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg) reported that Coca-Cola is considering making a move into “cannabis drinks” — as evidenced by supposed talks with Aurora Cannabis, Inc., a Canadian owned and operated company that sells a variety of cannabis products including several strains of dried cannabis as well as several oils. The company finally issued a statement, in response to many media inquiries: “We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world. The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.”
Caution might well be warranted with respect to products for sale in the United States, because of the often-overlooked drug exclusion rule at FDA. Coca-Cola has sophisticated FDA counsel, and I am sure they are on top of this issue. But others watching legal and real-world developments relating to sale of cannabis may not be aware of the rule, which presents a significant legal impediment to the sale of CBD in any form other than approved new drugs (even if no medical claims are made).
Many people don’t know about the drug exclusion rule . . .