The first thought that comes to mind at the mention of cannabis is more than likely smoking, eating, even vaping. However, drinking cannabis is becoming more and more popular by the day.
For example, this summer, the Beverage Trade Network is hosting the first annual Cannabis Drinks Expo. The market is projected to be nearly $1.5 billion in just four short years from now (according to Zenith Global). That is a rise from less than $90 million just last year!
For now, a massive slew of THC and CBD infused cannabis drinks exist. Tea, cider, wine, sodas and much more. Most of them contain doses ranging from just 2.5 milligrams to larger 100miligram dosages. Several companies have seen a great success within this niche industry recently including Rebel Coast Winery, with 5 milligram THC-infused glasses of wine, California Dreamin’ with their fruit juices containing 10 milligrams of THC, Recess who have brought in over $3 million from investors for their sparkling cannabis-infused waters, and MJ Wines with several beverages including coffee, energy drinks, and of course wine.
Something all these brands have in common is that they’re setting themselves up to excel, even dominate, in the health and wellness industry. The main customer base they’re building on is those looking for a mid-way-through-the-day boost or a late-night relaxation.
From mega-corporations to mini and mid-sized beverage companies, everyone wants in on this action. This year, New Age Beverage launched a new line of relaxing drinks infused with 25 milligrams of CBD called Marley+CBD Mellow Mood. Also, heavy-weight champion of the soft-drink-world, Coca-Cola has been rumored to be exploring the possibility of blasting off their own CBD-based line of beverages. For now, they’ve not made any official moves, however, it would be no surprise to see them jump on the bandwagon once federal laws on cannabis relax a bit. The main issue is that the laws of each state are different, from labeling to distributing, collecting taxes, and the whole nine yards. Once these complications are cleared, the sky is the limit for such corporations as Coca-Cola.
Another issue that has some companies worried, aside for the legal side of things, is plain and simply the taste. A lot of cannabis-infused drinks aren’t the most flavorful beverages to begin with. Many people are calling them “funky” or “skunky.” The real issue is that THC and CBD are not water-soluble, which means they float. This floating causes a gathering of the oils and a more potent cannabis-ish taste (and even smell). It is one of the major reasons why companies are going overboard on ingredients such as lemon, and ginger, and other fruity flavors. That said, most cannabis fans are more than willing to deal with a bit of funky flavor to indulge in their favorite pastime.
Recently, the 2018 Farm Bill, was passed. This bill legalized hemp and its extracts to be allowed into beverages. It is believed that this bill will provide a toehold for national brands to ramp up awareness of cannabis-infused drinks well ahead of the changing of federal law. In other words, allowing these corporations to get a head start in pushing their new cannabis-infused product lines and lifting public opinion.
Aside from major corporations such as Coca-Cola, many alcohol heavy-weights are also trying to make up their minds on the matter. That said, others have already made their positions more than clear. Heineken, Budweiser, and Corona, for example, have all three jumped in head first, investing billions of dollars into cannabis companies. Corona has partnered up with Canopy Growth, while Budweiser has thrown in tens of millions of dollars into pairing up with Tilray, a major cannabis company.
For Cannabis-curious customers, to long-time cannabis fans, these are exciting times for the country. For those investing in the industry, the same can be said, albeit with a bit more risk involved. Cannabis drinks are a way for these corporations to maximize their profits and cross-advertise already established product lines with new ones.
The bottom line? There is a lot of hype about cannabis drinks circulating around the country, indeed around the world. There is also a ton of money to be made in the niche industry. Cannabis-based drinks are not cheap to manufacture, which gives bigger companies an edge. What will come of the fledgling niche industry? Only time will tell. That said, it doesn’t take an Edgar Cacey to see that things are looking up for the niche.