Cannabis-infused beverages are the latest items in the Massachusetts cannabis edibles market. According to Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm
Headset, sales of cannabis drinks have jumped 40 percent over the past year. Consumers flocked to a new consumption method — and an alcoholic beverage alternative. But what are they, exactly? What experience can you expect to have as you sip on one? Keep reading to understand what you need to know before you try a cannabis beverage.
What Are Cannabis Drinks?
Infusing cannabis into
beverages is not an easy process. That is one reason cannabis drinks have taken so long to appear in the market. Until recently, cannabis-infused beverages have not been the most appetizing option, at least compared to more traditional forms of edibles such as chocolates and gummies, as they have sometimes
featured large chunks of cannabis floating in them. This is because THC and CBD, among other cannabinoids, are fat-soluble, so mixing them smoothly with water is difficult. Fat-soluble cannabinoids fare much better with the oils found in edibles. New technology, however, is making more appealing cannabis drinks possible. The infusion of additional cannabis terpenes makes the beverages more flavorful. Drinkers can now choose between cannabis-infused beverages containing the psychoactive component THC, those infused only with CBD, or a mixture of both, each providing a unique effect.
The market for cannabis beverages is expected to boom for various reasons. Consuming cannabis in this way is especially appealing to those who are cannacurious or who have never used cannabis before, as it is can often be less intimidating than vaping or smoking. Furthermore, cannabis drinks offer a more sophisticated and socially-acceptable alternative to edibles such as gummies or brownies, which may not appeal to older users (and can be more difficult to dose). Cannabis drinks are also available in no-or-low sugar and no-or-low calorie options, appealing to those who are health-conscious in a way other candy-like edibles might not.
The main appeal of cannabis drinks is that they offer more social opportunities than other edibles, and a more sophisticated experience than common inhalation methods. Kids share candies, but adults are accustomed to sipping drinks and sharing conversation with friends. Cannabis “beer” contains no alcohol, but friends can crack open a cold one at the end of the day and unwind.
Unlike alcohol, THC drinks are not likely to cause a hangover the next day. Although cannabis may affect people differently, it is not known to cause the bad-tempered or violent reactions found when some people consume alcohol. Furthermore, health-conscious consumers know that over the long-term, drinking alcohol can have a deleterious effect on the body and their looks. This makes cannabis-infused beverages an appealing alternative, and many have adopted the “California sober” approach of foregoing alcohol all together in favor of cannabis.
One caveat: Do not drink cannabis-infused and alcoholic beverages at the same time. The same holds true for combining other forms of cannabis and alcohol. This mixture can cause serious impairment. As such, it is currently illegal to mix alcohol with any THC products. You may, however, find non-alcoholic beer products containing CBD. The CBD in this case is derived from hemp.
New cannabis consumers may find THC drinks especially enticing. People drink liquids daily. Some do not like to smoke or vape, so a drink is a more welcome introduction to cannabis. For social situations, sipping a beverage is more acceptable than lighting a joint or pipe.
Other edibles contain sugar, which puts the calorie-conscious off. Cannabis drinks run the gamut, however, and include sugar-free choices such as sparkling water. Other popular types of cannabis drinks include the following:
In addition to being a convenient method of consumption, it is thought that cannabis drinks, like Levia’s seltzers, which are carried at Garden Remedies dispensaries, may have faster onset times than other edibles. This is because these drinks have been formulated to be highly bioavailable, and absorption of the THC and other terpenes in the product begin in your mouth instead of in your digestive system. This allows the experience of drinking a cannabis beverage to be more similar to that of taking a tincture, with effects being felt within 20 to 45 minutes after consumption.
Understanding How To Dose Cannabis Drinks
In Massachusetts, the industry standard for THC drink dosing is 5 milligrams. For instance, a 12-ounce bottle of a cannabis-infused beverage might contain 5 milligrams of THC and 10 milligrams of CBD.
Every container should state clearly how much THC is within. The label may also state the number of doses the can or bottle contains. A regular cannabis consumer can tolerate a higher
dose than a newcomer. As beginning cannabis users are always warned, “Start low and go slow.” That advice certainly applies to cannabis-infused beverages.
If you prefer to
microdose with cannabis, taking small sips of a drink throughout the day can relieve stress or mild pain. Those seeking a moderate psychoactive effect or help with
sleep or chronic pain should find relief using up to 5 milligrams. Medical users suffering from severe pain may need higher doses, but always check with your doctor.
Check out the shelf life of a cannabis drink if you are not going to finish it in one sitting. That is especially true for those intending to microdose.
At Garden Remedies, we are changing the conversation about cannabis. That includes the newest methods of cannabis consumption. Our staff can answer questions you have about drinkables and recommend the best products for your needs.
As the only physician-led and woman-led dispensary in Massachusetts, we are strongly committed to helping as many people as possible live their best lives by providing access to safe, legal and natural cannabis. Our flower is all Massachusetts-grown. Visit one of our three dispensaries, located in Marlborough, Melrose and Newton, or call us at
(844) 344-2420. For all other inquiries, email
Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, Zack’s, Financial Advisor, nj.com, The Houston Chronicle and The Nest. She is a graduate of New York University.