Cannabis-infused beverages give a whole new meaning to the phrase, “What the hell was in that drink?”
In fact, infused drinks are not only a tasty way for patients to consume their medicine, but they come with benefits other edibles don’t have.
Infused drinks now make up about 1 percent of sales in the Arizona market, said Jessica Lukas, vice president of consumer insights at BDS Analytics. In the first two quarters of 2018, the sales of beverages increased by 9 percent.
While they’re not a huge part of the market, cannabis beverages do play an important role in bringing more consumers into the market.
Many people who have just begun using cannabis for the first time (“recent adopters” as Lukas calls them) often choose products familiar to them, Lukas said.
Because smoking may not be a part of many new patients’ lives, having a variety of edibles to choose from, from baked goods to gummies to sodas, gives them more options for introducing cannabis into their lives.
That’s what Jade Tadvick, co-founder and president of Sir Newton’s, had in mind when his company began making sodas.
“It’s a way to medicate more socially than a typical edible,” Tadvick said.
He envisions patients who don’t want to drink alcohol bringing a six-pack of Sir Newton’s sodas to a party.
Much of the idea behind Sir Newton’s came with health in mind. Tadvick thought the market could use a soda available to patients with conditions like cancer who can’t consume sugar.
“It’s more of a diet soda,” Tadvick said. “Our thought was we can make a soda taste pretty close to a regular soda, have zero calories, zero sugar, and have it be a home run. And so far, it’s doing pretty well.”
Each can is individually dosed to ensure consistency, Tadvick said — something he also thought was missing in the market.
Cannabis-infused beverages like Sir Newton’s have been growing in popularity across the country.
Recently, Constellation Inc., the company that owns beers like Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico, made a $3.8 billion investment in a Canadian cultivation company called Canopy Growth Corp. The company has reportedly considered making de-alcoholized beer and seltzer water.
Locally, Keef Cola, a Colorado-based brand many Arizona patients are familiar with, is licensed through K.I.N.D. Concentrates in Arizona, which in turn is affiliated with Level Up dispensaries. Keef Brands, which began in 2015, offers products in California, Nevada, and Colorado, and even Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
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Though there’s been a general trend nationally, the product diversity tends to grow with each state’s market, Lukas said.
Both Keef Cola and Sir Newton’s sodas come in 10-, 50-, and 100-milligram doses, with the price increasing with the concentration.
One perceived benefit of infused drinks is that they tend to hit faster. While solid edibles may take up to an hour or two to take effect, some patients report feeling a THC buzz after just 15 minutes. As an article last year in Leafly.com reported, “In liquid form, the cannabinoids within a drink have the potential to be absorbed (in small part) sublingually as you sip, while also passing through the digestive tract more quickly than a lipid-packed cannabis cookie.”
As with other edibles, remember that you can always drink more, but you can’t drink less. And as with alcohol, it’s not advisable to drink and drive — even if it’s just cannabis.