Walmart Inc.’s Canadian arm has been investigating the possibility of selling cannabis-based products but doesn’t intend to get into the much-hyped business yet.
“As we would for any new industry, Walmart Canada has done some preliminary fact-finding on this issue, but we do not have plans to carry CBD products at this time,” spokeswoman Diane Medeiros said in an email, referring to cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants.
Interest in CBD has been booming as Canada prepares to legalize recreational marijuana next week and several large alcohol and consumer products companies have indicated they’re studying CBD’s commercial possibilities.
Coca-Cola Co. said last month that it’s “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.” Constellation Brands Inc., the maker of Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wine, has indicated an interest in selling CBD-infused drinks through its partnership with Canopy Growth Corp., and Molson Coors Canada Inc. has formed a joint venture with Hexo Corp. to develop cannabis beverages.
When PepsiCo Inc. said last week that it has no plans to invest in cannabis, its shares took a dip.
Other Canadian retail outlets are moving into the pot space. Shoppers Drug Mart, the drugstore chain owned by Loblaw Cos., last month received approval from Health Canada to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, opening the door for its pharmacies to dispense medical cannabis to patients.
While CBD doesn’t get you high like its cousin THC, it’s thought to help with a wide range of ailments ranging from pain and inflammation to anxiety and sleeplessness. Its therapeutic effects are the subject of several clinical trials being conducted by Canadian cannabis companies, including a Canopy study on sleep and Tilray Inc. research into Dravet syndrome, a rare form of pediatric epilepsy.
“Health and wellness consumers are beginning to find value and use cases from CBD-based oil extracts, tinctures, topicals and capsules to improve everyday life,” Cowen & Co. analyst Vivien Azer wrote in a research note Tuesday. “We expect to see CBD used as a functional ingredient in non-alcoholic beverages.”