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UPDATE 1-Pot producer Canopy launches CBD-infused beverage line in Canada

(Adds executive comments, shares)

Nov 5 (Reuters) - Canadian pot producer Canopy Growth Corp on Thursday launched a cannabidiol-infused beverage line in the country, betting on sustained demand for cannabis drinks that gained popularity during coronavirus-led lockdowns.

The “Quatreau” line of sparkling waters will come in two variants — one with only cannabidiol (CBD) and the other with a limited amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid which causes a high, the company said.

Shares of the pot producer, which is backed by Corona beer maker Constellation Brands Inc, rose 8% as investors have been hopeful that beverages could provide a way for weed producers to make money after years of massive losses.

A non-psychoactive compound derived mainly from the hemp plant, CBD is being researched for various medical applications and has found increased use as a relaxative.

Canopy Growth launched THC-based drinks in Canada in March and had sold 2 million cans since, company executives told Reuters at the end of October.

The company last month also announced plans to launch the drinks in the United States next summer, through a licensing deal with New York-based Acreage Holdings Inc.

“Our THC beverage tends to play in more traditional alcohol beverage occasions. We think CBD has more breadth in terms of the type of opportunities and occasions it could compete in,” Canopy’s global head of beverages Andrew Rapsey told Reuters.

Rapsey also said the company was open to working with interested distributors that already carry CBD drinks in the United States for a potential future launch of Quatreau in the country.

Analytics company New Frontier Data estimates U.S. CBD spending to be nearly $15 billion this year, with marijuana-infused products expected to exceed $21.5 billion in retail sales between 2020 and 2025. (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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