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Cannabis

Note from the editor

Cannabis is one of the hottest trends in the industry. From soda and water to ice cream and candy, CBD is rapidly entering the food and beverage space. With 40% of U.S. consumers saying they are willing to try cannabis-infused products, companies have jumped on the oppurtunity, but regulation around the trendy ingredient remains complicated.

Although Congress legalized hemp with the passage of the Farm Bill last year, the FDA said CBD remains under government regulation and is still technically illegal. The agency even sent warning letters to some CBD companies, stating they were making illegal health claims about their products. At the first public hearing on the ingredient, manufacturers pushed for both legalization and more safety controls. A legal path to market CBD in food and beverages may still be years away, but it hasn't stopped the clamor. 

A recent report found that CBD is entering the food and drink space at an "astounding pace." The Farm Bill jump-started a trend where smaller companies have rushed to put CBD products on the market, adding the ingredient to everything from beer to jelly beans. Companies like Sproutly and Layn Corp are racing to find the best ways to incorporate CBD that will appeal to today's consumers. But even before the bill's passage, companies were starting to experiment. Founded in 2010, Keef Brands became one of the first companies to put it into a soda. 

While Big Food has largely been watching the trend from the sidelines as they await regulationUnilever's Ben & Jerry's, announced its plan to introduce CBD in ice cream — just one day before the FDA hearing. Other big names like Monster and Mondelez have said they are considering adding the ingredient to their products when there is more legal clarity. Big Beer, including Constellation BrandsMolson Coors Brewing and AB InBev, have heavily invested in developing CBD and THC-infused nonalcoholic beverages.

This report details multiple aspects of the expanding and evolving cannabis space:

  • Why it's more than a buzzy investment
  • The regulatory status of the ingredient
  • Why Big Food is waiting on CBD
  • If marijuana is the next functional ingredient
  • A new fast-acting cannabis extract
  • How the cannabis beverage was established
  • Layn's $60 million investment in development
  • Ben & Jerry's pledge to make CBD ice cream

This trendline captures just a few of the many issues and moving pieces impacting the CBD space today. We hope you enjoy this deep dive into the current trends.

Lillianna Byington Associate Editor

Why cannabis is more than just a buzzy investment for food and beverage companies

Changing attitudes, consumer acceptance and legalization have shifted the substance's domain from lazy stoners to big businesses.

Manufacturers push for legal clarity at FDA's first public hearing on CBD

The 10-hour meeting was the first step in what could be a yearslong process to establish a legal path to market for food and beverage products with the cannabis compound.

Canopy Growth CEO: Cannabis hasn't caught the attention of Big Food — yet

While beer and tobacco have looked into marijuana, Bruce Linton said the substance hasn't had a significantly disruptive impact on most CPG companies.

Is marijuana food's next functional ingredient?

How Sproutly's fast-acting cannabis extract could be a game changer for edibles

The Canadian company, which has developed a revolutionary water soluble option containing the drug, could appeal to consumers interested in clean label food and beverage products.

How the cannabis beverage was established — and expanded — by Keef Brands

CEO Erik Knutson told Food Dive how his company created sodas, seltzers, juices and entered into a partnership for beer with the trendy ingredient, and where he sees the market going.

Layn expands into CBD market with $60M investment

The company known for its high-intensity sweeteners is bringing food industry knowledge and know-how to produce ingredients out of the substance.

The big chill: CBD-infused ice cream coming to Ben & Jerry's

There's a lot of buzz around the announcement — the first cannabis commitment from a major brand.