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Starbucks Might Be The First Big Chain To Launch Cannabis-Infused Drinks, According to Analysts

shared via Forbes

Starbucks might potentially end up being the first big chain to launch a line of cannabis-infused drinks, or at least that’s what analysts think.

Cowan released a 100-page document detailing its analysis of the CBD market on Monday. The group thinks that CBD will reach $16 billion in retail sales by 2025 and that we’re likely to see cannabis, specifically, CBD, make its way into other products down the line well, Yahoo Financereports.

“The dynamics are fluid, likely delaying adoption from major coffee players like Starbucks in the near term,” Cowan analyst Andrew Charles wrote in the report. “Should the regulation of CBD oil as an additive to food/beverage change or craft/independent coffee shops find a way to comply with the existing regulation, we could envision Starbucks ultimately piloting the ingredient.”

While it’s certainly a possibility, that vision might not be in Starbucks' roadmap for the time being. Speaking with a reporter from CNBC last month, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said that while it’s paying attention to the trend, right now adding cannabis to Starbucks’ menu isn’t currently in the company’s plans.

Should the company decide to include cannabis in its drinks it would likely run into a number of roadblocks. Commercial CBD is still in its infant stages, with states and regulators still trying to understand how to appropriately regulate its use.

New York City, for instance, recently began cracking down on restaurants that were using CBD as a food additive, threatening those establishments with fines should they continue to serve CBD on their menu.

In New York City, the issue is that CBD has not been approved by the FDA as a food additive.

Starbucks has made a name for itself by offering a consistent menu and drink selection at all of its stores around the globe. Given the new nature of CBD in the market, the chain would likely run into more than a few issues with a nationwide rollout.

For instance, if CBD-infused drinks were available in New Jersey by not New York, that could potentially confuse customers. It would also complicate things from a sheer menu standpoint for Starbucks.

That doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to get a CBD-infused frappuccino, but it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

According to Cowen’s report, nearly 7% of Americans are already using CBD. The most popular way for consumers to inject CBD is through tinctures, which claimed 44% of the market. Topicals accounted for 26% of the market, capsules 22% and beverages 19%, according to Cowan’s report.

If you want CBD-infused coffee, you still have options. Tinctures are currently one of the most popular ways to add a little CBD to that cup-of-joe, but you can also buy CBD-infused coffee beans. Willie Nelson actually unveiled a whole bean coffee earlier this month called “Willie’s Remedy Whole Bean Coffee.” Each 8-ounce cup of the coffee has 7mg of hemp-driven CBD.

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