Drinkable cannabis becomes the new edibles that makeup one of the fastest-growing segments of the cannabis market. It’s discreet, it requires no special equipment, it tastes good, and it’s a familiar and safe delivery system.
Weed-infused drinks is a sprawling category that includes tinctures to mix with cocktails; non-alcoholic alternatives to wine, beer, or champagne; wellness beverages that can lull you to sleep or take the place of aspirin or ibuprofen after a strenuous game of hoops or tennis; and sparkling sodas that are as appealing to millennials as they are too baby boomers who aren’t comfortable lighting up.
Why Are There so Much Drinkable Cannabis?
Bottoms up! Straddling the lines among intoxicating drinks, wellness shots, and liquid medicine, drinkable cannabis is taking off. According to BDS Analytics, which tracks cannabis trends, there were 88 beverage brands on the market in mid-2019; that’s 19 more than during the same time period in 2018. In 2018, beverages made up 6% of the total edibles market in the United States. That percentage is rising steadily and BDS predicts that by 2022 canna-beverages, including THC and cannabidiol (CBD) products sold in dispensaries and non-THC drinks sold in supermarkets, drugstores, convenience stores, and the like could be a $1 billion market.
Mike Tyson has launched Dwiink, a line of CBD-enhanced water and fruit-flavored beverages whose name is a playful wink to his trademark lisp.
Big booze distributors are investing heavily in weedy drinks: Heineken-owned Lagunitas offers Hi-Fi Hops, a pair of nonalcoholic, zero-calorie beverages.
Constellation Brands, which owns Corona beer, Robert Mondavi wine, and Svedka vodka, is investing billions in Canopy Growth, a mega Canadian cannabis producer that’s creating nonalcoholic cannabis-infused drinks.
Meanwhile, the maker of Arizona Iced Tea has signed a licensing agreement with Dixie Brands to manufacture and distribute canna-drinks under the Arizona label.
Other companies are expanding into the drinks space, such as Weller, a manufacturer of functional snacks.
Why Did Cannabis Drinks Take so Long to Hit the Market?
Developing a beverage infused with CBD or THC is a lot more complicated than mixing gin with tonic. Cannabinoids are hydrophobic — meaning they repel water. Drop cannabinoids into the water and they’ll float to the surface rather than dispersing evenly.
It’s taken cannabis chemists a lot of hit-or-miss experiments to overcome this hurdle.
SōRSE, a Seattle-based beverage-tech company, is one of the innovators in the field, developing a method to convert cannabis oils into a water-soluble emulsion that has no cannabis taste or smell and that disperses uniformly throughout the liquid. The technology is proprietary and Michael Flemmens, SōRSE’s vice president of science, will say only that the company uses food-grade components that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe.
Will Drinkable Weed Trigger Paranoia?
Predictability is one of the advantages well-formulated THC-infused beverages have over edibles, said Niccolo Aieta, Ph.D., founder, and Chief Technology Officer for Spheres.”Cannabis drinks are fast-acting, taking effect within minutes as opposed to several hours with edibles,” he said.
The woman-owned and -operated Humboldt Apothecary takes an herbalist’s approach to cannabis by formulating tinctures with medicinal herbs to work in concert with the full-spectrum cannabis. The blends of botanical ingredients with cannabinoids not only aid a more rapid onset, according to the company, but also help to achieve certain effects: a peppermint formula for the relief of congestion, passionflower, and lavender for sleeping, or gingko and rosemary for a brain boost.
As for CBD drinks, Scott Van Rixel, CEO of Bhang, thinks of these as wellness, not recreational, products. “They’re making accessible the benefits of a plant that used to be a part of people’s lives on a daily basis,” said Van Rixel, who noted those benefits include relaxation, better sleep, relief from irritability, or inflammation.
Van Rixel suggested that consumers might want to think of CBD beverages the way they do energy drinks: Find the dose — a single shot in the morning or several throughout the day — that works best for them.
Source: Shelley Levitt