Cannabis Drinks Are Expanding the Marijuana Market, Which Could Soon Outsell Real Sodas
It may sound pretentious, but “drinkables” could quickly become the new “edibles” given how great cannabis drinks are. Brands for the top cannabis drinks are making waves and generating positive press, and they’re certainly catching the attention of consumers and investors the world over.
Drinkable marijuana drinks, like Canna Cola and Legal brand beverages, contain an infused mixture of THC and popular beverage ingredients. Many are more or less THC-laden direct copies of existing sodas, such as Sprig’s answer to Fresca. Others aim to do better than the typical soft drink, including many sugar-free products and intriguingly gourmet concoctions.
There are also drinks infused with CBD, which provide relaxation and stress relief without the high.
Ready to immerse yourself in the world of cannabis beverages, learn what they feel like, how they’re made, and what some of the top ones are? Let’s dive in!
Are Cannabis Drinks Similar to Edibles?
Cannabis infused drinks are definitely closest to edibles on the spectrum of ways to consume weed. The cannabinoids are absorbed through your digestive system and broken down by your liver, leading to the more-powerful metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC.
This process leads to the classic edibles experience:
- Delayed onset
- Longer duration of effects
- More intense “high” sensations
- Longer come-down period
- Stronger drowsiness, even with products made from sativa strains
Edibles’ long duration makes them enjoyable for social situations where smoking or vaping marijuana may be inconvenient. Many medical patients also prefer edibles when treating chronic pain with cannabis, as well as other medical conditions.
Interestingly, many people report a quicker onset when drinking marijuana infused preparations compared to eating them. “You may feel the effects as soon as 10 minutes or as late as an hour or more,” reports PopSugar’s Nicole Yi. “I personally found the timing to range from 10 to 45 minutes, depending on the strain.”
The quicker onset may be a result of liquids being quicker to digest and more easily absorbed by the intestines, but only anecdotal evidence supports this theory so far.
How Are THC and CBD Infused Drinks Made?
Your first thought may be that canna sodas and other drinks are made by dropping a dollop of infused oil or cannabutter in the product, but that’s thankfully not the case. While some products, like coffee, could disguise this oily texture, that would make the beverage less shelf stable and more generally unappealing.
Instead, most products are likely made with a vegetable glycerin extract, sometimes called glycerol. Vegetable glycerin is similar to lipids like oil or fat. In fact, the substance forms the structural foundation of many types of fatty acid molecules. It can be vegan or kosher/halal depending on how it is prepared.
You can even extract your own vegetable glycerin infusion to make marijuana drinks at home! This preparation method is often combined with sugar to create a more syrupy—rather than oily—texture. In fact, glycerol is a common component of many soft drinks and beverages already on the market.
As for how most major brands make their own infusion, there’s no straight answer.
“We use a raw CO2 based extract, which is a very clean extract with no nasty solvents,” explains fruit cannabis soda brand Sprig. “It is very viscous, amber colored oil. Once we get the refined CO2 oil, it is put into a soda and from there we combine it with organic cane sugar. It is your basic beverage but it has THC.”
While they leave the glycerin component out of their response, it is presumably an ingredient considering how common glycerin is in sports drinks and other beverages. Also, some sort of lipid component is needed, since cannabinoids are fat soluble rather than water soluble.
What Are the Top Cannabis Drinks?
There’s no specific data available on sales of THC- and CBD infused beverages by product. But the top brands are certainly getting as much buzz as they give!
“California Dreamin’ has succeeded in creating a beverage with the light-hearted brand, logical dosage and agreeable taste to be something you can drink casually and socially, not just when you want to get ridiculously high,” writes Techcrunch, of all outlets, in their review of California Dreamin’ soda.
The brand recently had a breakout launch emphasizing its low dosage of 10mg of THC per bottle. That’s much lower than other brands are willing to go, which can exceed a whopping 100 mg per bottle.
Other top brands include Legal, Dixie Elixirs, Olala, Zasp, Keef, and Canna Cola. The latter company even offers beverages based on the most popular weed strains.
There’s also a host of cannabis-infused drink types you might not expect. Catapult Coffee Pods, for instance, contain weed-infused coffee in a K-cup form factor that’s ready for your Keurig. Catapult also sells a powdered cocoa mix that has 10 mg of THC per serving.
And—just when you thought they’d covered everything—one company is making weed water!
There are also quite a few options for CBD infused drinks that don’t contain any THC in them. CBD offers many recreational and medical benefits, including relaxation and reduced inflammation, making the beverages an ideal way to unwind after a strenuous workout or stressful day. Some bars and coffee shops are even putting CBD drops in customer’s drinks upon request for a minimal added charge.
How Popular Are Drinkable Marijuana Sodas?
At the moment, cannabis beverages are most likely just a small slice of the marijuana retail industry as a whole. But that industry is growing rapidly. Given the current trajectory, many analysts even think cannabis products will outsell carbonated soft drinks in North America by 2030.
Eager to find new ways to offer cannabis to the public, companies are banking on the familiar form factor beverages offer.
“Many consumers are used to drinking intoxicants as it is more socially acceptable to smoking/vaping,” explains Vancouver-based analyst for PI Financial Jason Zandberg. “I do believe cannabis-infused beverages will be a strong product category in Canada when this edible category is allowed.”
Overall, expect drinks infused with THC and CBD to be a rapidly expanding sector of the market. There’s so much room for novelty and innovation that we could all soon be swimming in store shelves full of options—which is far from a bad thing.