Potent edibles already make up about half of the recreational cannabis market in states like Washington and Oregon, but many investors and cannabis fans are convinced that this number will only continue to grow as a new trend takes hold: drinking your weed.
Last September, analysts at Canaccord Genuity projected the market for cannabis-infused beverages could reach as high as $600 million in the U.S. alone by 2022. Several small companies produce drinks with THC and CBD in them already, taking the form of wine, coffee, beer, vodka, seltzer, soda, chocolate milk, lemonade, apple cider and more.
Even large companies like Constellation Brands — makers of Corona beer — and Coca-Cola have reportedly indicated they’re looking into producing cannabinoid-enhanced drinks for consumers.
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Why is there such interest in beverages now?
A few reasons. It’s no secret that the rapid trend toward legalization of recreational marijuana has created a massive cash cow. U.S. recreational sales in 2018 peaked at over just $10 billion in 2018, with analysts expecting that number to rise to about $16 billion this year. That means there are a lot of opportunities for large and small vendors alike to get their piece of the action.
Cannabis’ newfound mainstream acceptance is also bringing into the fold folks who may have been curious about experimenting in the past, but have only come around to actually following through after its legalization. Smart vendors in the market are keen on marketing to these kinds of consumers, who often value discretion and harbor concerns about the health effects of smoking. For them, small-dosage edibles make the most sense.
How do beverages compare to edibles?
Traditional edibles can take one to two hours for a user to experience the full effects. For many drinks — especially those produced through a nanoemulsion process — users can start feeling effects as soon as 10 to 30 minutes after imbibing.
Beginners can sometimes get impatient and overindulge, which can lead to a very bad time. With lower doses and a quicker onset, the hope is that users will be able to more accurately judge their level of intoxication in real time, and ingest accordingly.
Are any businesses in Massachusetts looking into marijuana beverages?
Yes. Georgetown-based TINC is the first cannabis beverage company to announce plans to operate in Massachusetts, though they’re still working with the state to become fully licensed. The headquarters will include a cannabis extraction lab and canning operation and hopes to open sometime in March or April, co-owner Eric Rogers told Boston.com.
“Given the dynamic nature of the cannabis plant, there’s a lot we can do from an effects perspective,” Rogers added. “So one [drink] being more uplifting, creative, energetic, whereas another might be more relaxing, social, chatty, and engaging, where another might be relaxing, anti-anxiety.”
TINC’s first offering will be a line of seltzer drinks with 5 milligrams of THC, though they hope to later expand to other drinks like cold-brew coffee and tea.