Pot-laced soda in budding stages

One company hopes to sell Canna Cola and other flavors to medical-marijuana patients.

By Kim Peterson Jan 24, 2011 2:14PM
Image: Marijuana (© Halfdark/fStop/Getty Images)Marijuana in a soda? Yes, if one California company gets its way.

Diavolo Brands hopes to market a line of soft drinks enhanced with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. The company wants to produce a number of flavors, including Canna Cola, a Dr Pepper-like Doc Weed and a lemon-lime Sour Diesel.

You won't find the drinks at 7-Eleven. The sodas are intended for use by medical-marijuana patients and likely will be distributed at pot dispensaries that have received regulatory approval.

As states continue to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes, a new kind of entrepreneurship is unfolding. Small companies are developing ways to market pot products across the country, aiming to stake an early claim in a budding industry.

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So far, the marijuana-based products out there are "mom-and-pop, hippie-dippy and rinky-dink," Clay Butler, a partner in Diavolo Brands, told the Sentinel. He decided to look to Snapple and Coca-Cola (KO) as models and make a marijuana beverage with a more professional look.

The sodas are expected to cost between $10 and $15 for a 12-ounce bottle and are slated to go on sale in Colorado next month. They'll contain between 35 and 65 milligrams of THC, the Sentinel reports.

But there are two big barriers to firing up mass production. One is that the sodas cannot be transported across state lines, so they'll have to be made in the state in which they are sold. Also, a proposed bill called the "Brownie Law" in Congress forbids anything that combines marijuana with a "candy product," the Sentinel reports.

There's one industry that can take the lead on marketing and distributing marijuana-based products. Philip Morris (PM), Altria (MO) and other tobacco companies have the experience and the congressional pull to dominate this nascent business. And there's big money in it, too: Pot is the biggest cash crop in California alone, pulling in about $14 billion in annual sales.


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