First the heir to the Anheuser-Busch empire entered the cannabis industry on his own. Now, Budweiser itself has partnered with major industry player Tilray to research non-alcoholic drinks that include THC and/or CBD.
The companies announced Wednesday they’d each invest up to $50 million in conducting the research. Tilray’s research will be conducted through its subsidiary, High Park Company, while Anheuser-Busch will run its studies through its Canadian subsidiary, Labatt Breweries. Tilray told MarketWatch the partnership is limited to Canada, though the companies will discuss jointly producing products that come from the research in the future.
“For us, it’s early days in this industry and research feels like the right place to start,” Tilray Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy said. “At Tilray, we’ve been performing research and develop for almost five years on lots of different aspects of cannabis and cannabinoid delivery.”
Not only will the research focus on the effects of such cannabis-infused drinks, determining the duration of the product’s intoxication and its potency, the companies will also develop best practices for packaging cannabis products, scaling, and recipes. Kennedy said the goal will be creating “iconic and responsible cannabis infused beverages and brands” that disrupt the cannabis industry as is.
While Tilray’s competitors have also enjoyed headline-generating deals with massive corporations like the parent companies of Marlboro and Corona, those competitors received investments, which Tilray wasn’t interested in. Nor is Tilray interested in being acquired anytime soon.
“We obviously want to partner with other global pioneers and other leaders in their respective sectors,” Kennedy said. “We think it’s too early to give up control of our own destiny. Other companies have bought two of our competitors in this industry and it’s far too early for a transaction like that.”
As other industries eye their way into cannabis, the partnership between Budweiser and Tilray represents a new model to develop better products for consumers. Under this agreement, both Budweiser and Tilray can choose to maintain their independence moving forward or not.
“As consumers in Canada explore THC and CBD-infused products, our innovative drive is matched only by our commitment to the highest standards of product quality and responsible marketing,” Labatt Breweries President Kyle Norrington said. “We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.”