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For Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soda company, to consider developing a cannabis-infused beverage shows how much excitement there is over the potential health benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD.
However, all the buzz over CBD, a compound taken from marijuana that does not get the user high, is not yet backed up by research.
On Monday, a report by BNN Bloomberg, a Canadian news service, claimed that Coke and Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian cannabis producer, were in “serious talks” to develop such beverages, a development attributed to unidentified sources.
Coca-Cola called the report “speculation” and clarified in a statement said it was “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD” as an ingredient in wellness beverages. It declined to comment further.
While the market for CBD products is “evolving quickly,” as the beverage company described it, there have not been enough scientific studies to determine the general health benefits of CBD.
A handful of new beverages that infuse CBD with alcohol, coffee and juice tout their health benefits. Vybes, which says its product “isn’t a beverage, it’s a feeling — a way to a more balanced and grounded life,” is a CBD drink that claims to help regulate anxiety, sleep, mood and memory. The ingredient is also being used in numerous beauty products, shampoos and chocolates.
But there are far more personal stories and anecdotes about what cannabidiol does for mental health or to ease pain — two of the frequent claims about CBD — than scientific evidence.
Most studies of CBD have focused on its treatment of epilepsy. The Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, the first prescription cannabidiol medicine used to treat rare forms of epilepsy, earlier this year. The World Health Organization released a report last year that also affirmed the benefits of CBD for epilepsy, but said more research was needed to determine its possible effectiveness in other areas, such as addiction.
Researching CBD in the U.S. is difficult because CBD is derived from marijuana, a drug classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule 1, with no medical benefits and a high possibility of abuse.