Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, but that hasn't stopped some of the country's more recognizable companies from dipping their toes in the legal pot trade. Just look at AriZona Beverages.
The makers of gas station favorite AriZona Iced Tea (and a personal favorite of mine, Shaq Soda) recently announced the company's partnership with Denver-based Dixie Brands, a cannabis edibles company best known for its beverage line, Dixie Elixirs. According to the partnership announcement, the two brands have agreed to team up on THC-infused drink production, with Dixie set to show AriZona the ropes of cannabis-infused guzzling.
But the move also represents a shift in an industry previously shunned by big-money businesses, such as AriZona. With more states legalizing recreational pot each year, however, these companies are starting to move in, creating the foundation of a very different future for cannabis than what we're currently experiencing. To learn more about the partnership and what it means for Dixie, we caught up with CEO Chuck Smith.
Westword: So does this mean Dixie drinks will be 99 cents now?
Chuck Smith: The 99-cent messaging is a long-term marketing tactic by the AriZona Iced Tea product line. While the details of this new partnership are still being worked out, we can say that we will be developing a whole new line of new-to-world cannabis-infused products that deliver the same delicious, trusted and premium-quality experience that cannabis consumers have come to expect from Dixie Brands.
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Do you think we'll begin seeing similar partnerships between established food/beverage brands and companies in the edibles sector?
This partnership marks a watershed moment for the normalization and expansion of the cannabis sector overall, so I definitely can see it setting the foreground for other established food brands to enter the cannabis space, especially as the industry continues its boom.
How long has this partnership been in the works?
Both Dixie Brands and AriZona have spent a considerable amount of time building a strong relationship between our teams to ensure that commitment of quality and excellence in manufacturing are a priority for each brand. Leading up to the Letter of Intent, the AriZona team visited our facility, did their due diligence, and after liking what they saw, decided to move forward in our partnership.
Why'd you partner with AriZona, of all companies?
We strive for opportunities to be innovators and leaders in the cannabis space, and this partnership allows for just that. Cannabis is becoming more and more accessible for Americans every day, and with the increase in legalization, there is a growing curiosity. AriZona is a fun and cutting-edge brand, so when we learned of their desire to enter the cannabis space, it made perfect sense to form a partnership with a brand company that shares our same values.
Were you in talks with any other established beverage companies outside of the cannabis space before AriZona?
As innovators in the cannabis space, we are always interested in exploring partnerships with high-quality companies. While we’ve been waiting for the right timing, we’ve also been waiting for the right partner to come along. We wanted to work with a brand that not only shares the same vision and values as we do, but also one that wanted to take an early lead, and we're fortunate to find that in AriZona.
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So how does the partnership work? Will Dixie be making products under the AriZona label, or vice versa, or both?
In conjunction with certain AriZona trademarks, brands and other necessary intellectual property, Dixie will play a pivotal role during this relationship by taking the lead and leveraging its expertise in development, extensive formulation, manufacturing and distribution of the new portfolio.
How does this change Dixie's distribution? Does it give the company a new foothold in New York?
Under this partnership, we plan to develop and sell AriZona branded products as soon as possible, starting in the six states of our growing U.S. portfolio (California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma and Nevada).