Cannabis-infused drinks are going to become more widely available. Investment in the marijuana market is increasing as legal recreational use of the drug becomes more widespread.

The latest high profile investor is Constellation Brands, the distributer of Corona beers in the US, which has just bought a controlling stake in a Canadian marijuana company in order to develop cannabis-infused alcoholic drinks. But longer term, should alcoholic drinks companies be investing in marijuana to target consumers who switch from booze to weed?

Constellation Brand’s investment in Canopy Growth Corp, a marijuana growing company, is a sign that the market has potential. Widespread legalization is making marijuana a trending ingredient, driving innovation in food and drink markets. As a result, the move to enable the development of cannabis-infused drinks is a good one.

But alcoholic drinks companies need to think beyond just flavour innovation when weighing up investments in the marijuana market. The legalisation of recreational marijuana presents a threat, as drinkers may swap alcohol for cannabis. Drinks companies may therefore lose their customers to cannabis brands.

The consumption occasions for alcoholic drinks and recreational cannabis products overlap, such as the desire to relax or to celebrate. Whilst this increases the likelihood that alcoholic drinks could be replaced by cannabis, it also means drinks brands can move into this space without diluting what their brand stands for. Cannabis is a natural extension for many alcoholic drinks brands.

Cannabis is a controversial category: there is a danger that drinks companies investing in this category could alienate consumers who are strongly against its legalization. However attitudes towards marijuana are shifting rapidly, with consumers adopting an increasingly liberal stance.

Alcoholic drinks companies need to see cannabis as an opportunity, and not a threat. Consumers are increasingly in favour of legalising recreational use. Early investments in this category, such as that by Constellation Brands, will leave companies better placed to target this growing market.