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Aurora Cannabis Inc. said Tuesday that it “engages in exploratory discussions” with industry players but that it has not signed a deal with a beverage company for marijuana-infused drinks.
Shares of Aurora shot up 17 per cent Monday after a report by BNN Bloomberg claimed that “serious talks” had taken place between the Alberta cannabis grower and Coca-Cola Co., the Atlanta-based beverage giant.
On Tuesday, trading in Aurora’s stock was halted just after 9 a.m. to allow the company to publish a statement at the request of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
“The company’s policy is not to comment on speculative media reports,” Aurora said Tuesday in a news release that made no mention of Coca-Cola. “The company does confirm that it engages in exploratory discussions with industry participants from time to time. At this time the company confirms there is no agreement, understanding or arrangement with respect to any partnership with a beverage company.”
The use of the word “exploratory” in the statement suggests that any discussions it is having with any beverage firm are at an early stage.
Last month, The Globe and Mail first reported that Coke is among global drinks makers that have been talking to legal cannabis growers to learn more about the plant and how its legalization might impact their businesses.
Aurora has issued similar statements following news reports in the past. When The Globe first reported on May 2 that Aurora was in serious discussions to acquire rival MedReleaf Corp., Aurora issued a statement the next day similar to the one issued on Tuesday. In that release, the company didn’t use the word “exploratory” to characterize the nature of discussions. On May 14, Aurora said it had agreed to buy MedReleaf in a deal worth $3.2-billion.
In a statement on Monday, Coke said it is not interested in marijuana or cannabis, but that it is studying the market with an eye toward beverages that contain one of the main active ingredients found in cannabis: cannabidiol, or CBD. Unlike THC, this chemical does not have psychoactive effects on consumers. Instead, CBD could have possible health benefits – although clinical evidence for this is still limited at this time.
There are remaining questions about how Coke would enter the cannabis space.
“We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis,” Coke said Monday in its press release. “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.”
Media reports Monday did not include the first line of the Coca-Cola statement.
Shares of Aurora rose 6.9 per cent by mid-day Tuesday, to $10.67.
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