Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter believes brewers should not get caught in an "adrenaline rush" over cannabis

Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter believes brewers should not get caught in an "adrenaline rush" over cannabis

The CEO for Molson Coors has said the company is studying the cannabis market, but has warned the drinks industry not to get caught up in an "adrenaline rush" over the nascent category.

Mark Hunter, who is based in Colorado where recreational cannabis use is legal, said yesterday that Molson Coors has a team of people "actively working to understand" cannabis. He said the team is looking at the potential impacts and opportunities of the drug on the beer category.

However, Hunter added: "I think the important thing is to make sure we don't get caught in some kind of adrenaline rush. We're very thoughtful, very purposed and we're very clear on how we want to respond to both what could be challenges and what also could be opportunities."

Hunter was speaking after news this week that Constellation Brands has bought a near-10% stake in Canada-based medicinal cannabis company Canopy Growth Corp for US$191m. The deal signalled the biggest investment yet from an alcohol producer in a cannabis-related company, causing analysts to predict the beginnings of the drug being accepted as a viable alternative to alcohol in the recreational market.

Is cannabis here to stay? Constellation Brands has the US$191m answer - Click here for a just-drinks comment

Cannabis is legal in eight US states and is expected to be legal across Canada from next year. However, it is still illegal at federal level in the US.

Hunter said the US premium-light segment, which includes Coors Light and Miller Lite, endured a tough summer because of "significant discounting" in spirits. He said the on-premise was affected by Millennials going out less.

In third-quarter results, released yesterday, Molson Coors' sales-to-retailers were down by 3%, largely because of declines for Coors Light and Miller Lite. The fallsmirrored those for Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budwesier and Bud Light, announced last week. However, Coors Light and Miller Lite managed to gain share while their AB InBev rivals lost as much as one percentage point.

According to Nielsen data cited in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, light lager volumes in the US dropped by 14% from 2010 to 2016 to 65m barrels.

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