The Unique Challenges Cannabis Beverages Present the Industry
New Cannabis Markets Mean New Users
Imagine walking into your local supermarket and picking up a six pack, but instead of beer or hard cider, you’re holding cannabis infused drinks, complete with THC content labels and highlights of specific terpenes listed on the packaging. This cannabis beverages reality may not be as far off as you think.
As of March 2019, 33 states now offer medical cannabis for patients with a doctors prescription, and 10 more offer cannabis to all adult citizens. Just last week, New Mexico’s house passed a bill that would make them the 11th.
As cannabis legalization efforts push forward, and medical and recreational marijuana markets grow in numbers, so too does the prominence of cannabis products across the country. While many experienced cannabis users may already know what strains and forms work best for them, newer markets, especially on the recreational side, will bring many first-time users, who typically are unfamiliar with smoking cannabis.
First-Time Users Prefer Simplicity
Although many recommend dab pens, and edible forms of cannabis for new users who don’t wish to smoke, they often encounter problems when it comes to dosing these forms. Edibles have a slow rate of onset, and concentrated dab pens naturally are more potent than regular cannabis. This means there’s a strong likelihood for new users to green out using these forms. “Green outs” are markedly uncomfortable. They happen when you use more cannabis than you can tolerate. Symptoms include nausea and general uneasiness.
We’ve all heard the story. Someone new to cannabis eats a pot brownie expecting effects right away. When nothing seems to happen, they eat another, and soon become more “medicated” than they bargained for. While green outs won’t kill you, they certainly don’t make for many repeat customers, so industry experts are searching for ways to integrate cannabis into forms first time users are already familiar with, like beer and pop.
A Sessionable Cannabis Beverage
One way to appeal to new, cannabis inexperienced customers is offer something that gives the user a bit more control over effect. For cannabis industry folk, this means finding a way to make cannabis beverages behave more like beer than cannabis. Instead of a long wait following consumption, like an edible, canna-beverages should take effect early, but be light enough that the user can consume two to three in one session like a beer or alcoholic soda.
Ronan Levy, the chief strategy officer for Trait Biosciences, a cannabis bio sciences group working to innovate cannabis beverage tech, described cannabis’ opportunity to displace alcohol’s market share by, “[providing] cannabis consumption in a way that our entire society is used to, which is sitting down with a bottle or a glass and drinking and socializing.”
To do so, cannabis scientists must find a way to get cannabis, a fatty soluble substance, to break up into water like alcohol, a water soluble substance, so it may reach your bloodstream faster, causing quicker onset. If not, all canna-beverages will be slow acting, as they wait to be processed by your body’s digestive system. During this digestive process, much of the active THC is rendered useless due to first pass metabolism, which may explain why cannabis beverage products haven’t taken over the game, because, as Levy described, “the truth is that most products out there are kind of terrible.”
But how do we make cannabis water soluble, and improve these products that have such huge potential?
On the Cutting Edge: Nano Emulsification
In order to make cannabis plant matter behave more like alcohol, leading cannabis scientists and product developers must pursue innovative cannabis chemical isolation technology. One such technology involves the process of nano emulsification.
Nano emulsification isn’t new. The idea originated as a sort of advanced drug delivery system for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. These strategically placed nano sized emulsions act as blending agents, attaching to cannabis or other drug chemicals to make them more water soluble, which will deliver their effects faster.
This process has already yielded promising results for cannabis drinks.
After undergoing nano emulsification, Cannabiers Two Roots Brewing co, a cannabis beverage company, saw their products onset time decrease to less than five minutes, with an offset of 90 minutes, perfect for a session beer. Compared to standard beer products, these products take effect in half the time, and last just as long.
Nano emulsification may just put cannabis beverages on the map sooner than imagined. As mentioned before, cannabis drinks could acquire and displace a large portion of alcohol’s marketplace. According to the Brewers Association, alcohol sales made 111 billion dollars in 2019.
As Levy put it, “There’s a strong sentiment that beverages are probably going to become the leading mechanism for [cannabis] ingestion.” Once water soluble, cannabis drinks will take over the billion dollar drink industry. When they do, nationwide cannabis legalization shouldn’t be too far behind.
Would you like to try a cannabis beverage?
About the Author
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. [ Linkedin, Twitter ]
The whole concept of cannabis drinks is fascinating. The nano emulsification process is interesting.
If they can ever get the cannabis mixture right for a beverage, I think that product area would really take off!
Hi good evening Chris,
We are current beverage manufactures located in California. I stumbled across your article this afternoon while looking for cannabis beverage manufactures located in Oklahoma City, OK.
Off hand do you know of any that we can reachout to?