AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, is teaming up with Tilray, a cannabis producer based in Canada, to research and develop non-alcoholic drinks infused with the drug.

The new partnership, which was announced in a statement, will see both companies invest US$50m each into researching cannabis-infused drinks that, for now, will be limited to the Canadian market.

Canada recently fully legalised the recreational use of cannabis and its use is also permitted in a number of American states, which has prompted several leading consumer goods firms to explore the commercial opportunities of cannabis.

“We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities,” said Kyle Norrington, president of Labatt Breweries of Canada, the AB InBev subsidiary that will take the lead on behalf of its parent company.

“Tilray and AB InBev share a commitment to responsible product development and marketing, and we look forward to beginning our work on this important partnership as Tilray continues to pioneer the development of a professional, transparent, and well-regulated cannabis industry,” added Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Tilray.

Kennedy later provided further detail about the growing cannabis trend in an interview with the Financial Times, in which he said legalisation, as seen in Canada, is beginning to disrupt several industries, including beverages.

“We’re in the middle of a global paradigm shift. We’re seeing an entire industry develop and really transform, transitioning from a state of prohibition to a state of legislation,” he said.

“We don’t know how big this will be but what is happening is we are seeing a rapidly emerging industry – at a time when there’s not a lot of global growth available.”

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois, is just the latest multinational to start making moves into the cannabis market and its venture with Tilray follows a tie-up announced earlier this month between Cronos Group, a cannabinoid firm based in Toronto, and Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

Canopy Growth, another Canadian cannabis business, also received $4bn of investment this summer from Constellation Brands, the US brewing giant and maker of Corona.

Sourced from AB InBev, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff