The Unique Challenges Cannabis Beverages Present the Industry

canna-beverages | cannabis beverages

Cannabis-infused beverages have caused a lot of hoopla across the United States. Their appeal is wide, much like edibles, and early into legalization, major brands jumped into producing them. Cannabis drinks are easy to consume, require no smoke and are dosed in preset amounts, making their popularity palpable. Their availability, however, has been marred by inconsistencies in both legalized and hemp-based reliant states. Read below for the latest information about the canna beverages market.

Understanding canna-beverages

THC beverages, cannabis-based beverages and cannabis drinks are all market labels. However, some are made from cannabis plants and others are composed of hemp cannabinoids. While some states have embraced this branch of the industry, others have moved to ban canna beverages. These bans often lead to litigation with hemp business plaintiffs. Alongside this, some states have indirectly legalized drinks via legal loopholes.

Connecticut cannabis drinks

In Connecticut, a prime example of where a loophole created a market, Governor Ned Lamont signed two hemp industry bills into law, HB 5150 and SB 200, which impose a limit of one milligram of THC per serving for manufactured hemp products starting October 1, 2024. The THC limit drops again on January 1, 2025, to 0.5 milligrams. Canna-beverages came out on top with these new laws, however, as infused beverages specifically can contain up to three milligrams of THC per 12-ounce container. Further, they may be sold in packs of four.


Also, in Connecticut, effective July 1, only licensed cannabis retail establishments and package stores with a waiver will be allowed to offer cannabis-infused beverages, specifically those containing THC, for retail sale. Businesses no longer allowed to offer THC-infused beverages for purchase after June 30, 2024, include:

  • Cafes
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants

End of sales for these vendors includes existing cannabis beverages onsite and in inventory.

Cannabis-infused beverages in Iowa

In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed into law a bill that limits hemp-derived products to no more than four milligrams of THC per serving and 10 milligrams per container. An age limit of 21 years is also imposed on buyers. Reynolds noted, “I have concerns about this bill and have heard from individuals and groups on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.”

Canna beverages in Minnesota

As of July 1, 2024, Minnesota cannabis operators may sell low-THC beverages on tap, as a new law permits beverages to be served outside their original packaging. HB 4757 passed the State House, then Senate and was approved by the governor on May 24, 2024. Minnesota legalized seed sales, plus recreational and medical use beginning August 2023. Regulations are still in the process of being established; licensing is intended to follow in 2025.

The state of cannabis-infused beverages in Massachusetts

In May 2024, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Department of Agricultural Resources released a joint notice addressing the recent influx of hemp-based products, such as gummies and cannabis-based beverages, that contain the same active ingredient as cannabis products. The notice made explicit the “addition of CBD and/or THC to food manufactured or sold in Massachusetts is illegal.” Following the notice, the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission warned licensees if they are caught selling these products, their licenses could be suspended or revoked. “This is a big win for both the cannabis and the hemp industry, specifically those who are licensed by the CCC and MDAR,” said Ryan Dominguez, head of the Massachusetts Cannabis Coalition. “This is a step in the right direction for us to be able to now enforce what was already on the books, so there’s no kind of gray area.”

Illinois cannabis drinks laws

Efforts in the state of Illinois to ban hemp-derived cannabis beverages were not successful, much to the appreciation of state breweries, who would have felt a big blow to operations. The coast is not yet clear, however, for cannabis drinks, as all parties involved, including Governor J.B. Pritzker, say the issue will come up again next session. It is generally believed that a total ban on canna beverages is not the goal, but regulations are needed.

Get the lowdown on canna-beverages at CannaCon!

An especially fluid market, cannabis-based beverages are certainly a hot topic across the country. As the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference, CannaCon is your best source for news and for networking. With every conference, CannaCon grows the cannabis industry by educating business owners and others about all things cannabis and CBD. Our trade shows feature a large exhibition hall with exhibitors from around the country as well as seminars delivered by industry experts. Join the information train in St. Paul, MN on August 16-17, 2024!

This article was originally posted on March 15, 2019 and was updated on June 18, 2024. 


  1. Shawn on March 27, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    The whole concept of cannabis drinks is fascinating. The nano emulsification process is interesting.

  2. Paul on March 31, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    If they can ever get the cannabis mixture right for a beverage, I think that product area would really take off!

  3. Native on May 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    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?

    • Boofless Bottling on June 20, 2024 at 10:30 am

      We produce them in Tulsa

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