Hangover-Proof Beer Infused With THC and CBDs? Cheers!
After a long, hard day's work, the chance to enjoy a couple of cold ones sounds great. Not so great? The hangover, dehydration and other health downsides that can accompany alcohol.
So, what if you could enjoy a tasty craft brew that delivers a buzz without the headache?
That's exactly what a San Diego startup called Cannabiniers, which manages cannabis brands, wants to deliver and is already advertising on YouTube.
In mid-July, its brand Two Roots Brewing will release five non-alcoholic THC and CBD-infused beer varieties in California and Nevada: a lager, a blond ale, a wheat, an India pale ale and a stout. Each will eventually be available in THC-dominant, CBD-dominant and hybrid 1:1 options.
(CBD-infused cold-brewed ice coffees and teas will be available nationwide from Two Roots' sister company, Just Society, the first week of July.)
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The THC-infused beer won't show up on the shelves of local supermarkets or local liquor stores, only at marijuana dispensaries. The rollout is expected to carry on in phases throughout the 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have legalized medical marijuana, and the nine permitting recreational marijuana. CBD-infused beverages will be available at grocery and convenience stores and other locales where CBD products are sold.
(For a quick primer on the difference beetween tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psycho-reactive ingredient in cannabis that makes you high, and non-intoxicating cannabinoids, or CBDs, which are useful for relaxation and pain relief, see this High Times article.)
Cannabiniers's director of product manager Kevin Love views the fledgling industry of cannabis-infused beverages as ready to take off. "We're cannabis pioneers," Love declared in an interview with Entrepreneur. "With Two Roots, we saw a lot of things happening in the cannabis and traditional alcohol markets. What we wanted to do was dive into this paradigm shift and create a product that was aligned in a lifestyle-integrated format.
"Alcohol consumption is done in a social environment," Love continued. "So, you go to a bar, a restaurant; it's part of our society. And cannabis consumption is [also] on the rise and developing this normalized consumer acceptance."
Meanwhile, alcohol consumption has declined in those states where cannabis has become legal: Love referred to a Cannbiz Consumer Quiz, in which 27 percent of Colorado beer drinkers polled said they'd already substituted cannabis for beer, or would if cannabis became legal in their area (Colorado municipalities can choose).
Then there was a study by three universities revealing a 15 percent decrease in alcohol sales in states where medical cannabis is legal. "That led us to create a product aligned with consumer preference and consumer choice," Love said.
At the same time, another cultural shift caught the company's eye: the growing popularity in Europe (a trend growing here in the United States, too) of de-alcoholized beer, in place of traditional beer, soda or other unhealthy drinks. A de-alcoholized beer was actually the official choice of Germany's Olympics team during the PyeongChang Games.
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The reason for this trend, Love said, is these drinks' healthy ingredients, like B vitamins, carbs and electrolytes -- making for what he calls "a modern-day sports drink."
Since Cannabiniers couldn't legally add THC or CBDs to traditional beer -- they're not federally approved ingredients -- the company adopted what it considered a healthier option: getting rid of the alcohol in beer altogether. "Should a consumer have something that the next morning he wakes up and feels terrible about, only because he wanted to be in a social environment?" Love asked.
"I think it's important to give a consumer what he prefers to use as his social vehicle and [allows him to] be in those environments so he doesn't wake up and have a hangover and be unproductive."
For these reasons, Cannabiniers has worked, during the past two-year R&D period, with Europe's manufacturing leader in de-alcoholizing technology. As a result, Cannabiniers's manufacturer today can brew traditional beer, remove the alcohol and add THC, CBDs or both. There are no FDA regulations as yet for manufacturing these products in the United States, but there are state rules, Love said, which he said his company will adhere to closely.
Of course this all leads to the obvious question as to the physical effect of drinking a THC-infused beer. Is it like smoking a joint? "It's going to be different from that," Love said. "We're selling in micro servings" -- specifically 2.5 micrograms of THC per 11-ounce can of beer.
To put those numbers in perspective, the magazine High Times has written that a typical joint with 0.4 grams of marijuana should deliver roughly 36 mg of THC, while a larger, gram joint will include 90 mg of THC.
The obvious conclusion, then, is that a consumer will need to drink a lot of THC-infused beer to experience the same effect, and Love didn't disagree with that impression, though he noted that, as happens with someone trying out his or her first traditional beer, there's a control factor there. "As you drink more, you get a more enhanced feeling, like alcohol," he said.
That's preferable, he said, to what happens with, say, cannabis edibles, which take an hour or more to kick in -- during which a consumer may unwisely eat more and more -- and regret it. With Two Roots products, dissipation of any high should take about 1.5 hours, Love said.
Asked about the image his company is working to build with these products, Love explained that, "The important thing is to bring positive optics to the industry to demonstrate that the perception of the industry has changed.
"As an industry, we have a passion to bring about a positive image for the cannabis user," he continued. "Unfortunately, the image is adverse: People think of cannabis consumers as being the lazy stoner who lives at his parents' house, eating junk food, playing video games and not being a productive member of society. But the [actual] definition is your mother who just went through radiation therapy and is dealing with pain management, or the soldier who comes home suffering from PTSD -- or [sufferers of] neuro-degenerative diseases."
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Then there are those mainstream beer drinkers at barbecues and tailgate parties. "Consumers want to be engaged in a social atmosphere, but the only product that is fitting into those settings by today's standards is alcohol products," Love said.
His company, he said, intends to change that.