Cannabis-infused beverages are now available for marijuana users who do not like inhaling smoke or consuming the calories that come with edibles.
Sodas and sparkling waters that are laced with THC – the property of marijuana that triggers a ‘high’ – are currently available to people who have prescriptions for medical marijuana in California, and will be rolled out to other states in 2018.
Plus, more variations of ‘weed cocktails’ are also expected to arrive, including coffee and tea based versions.
Drinking THC is reportedly easier than smoking it or eating it for some patients undergoing harsh chemotherapy treatments.
The THC-infused beverage industry is taking off at a time when consumers are keeping a watchful eye on marijuana markets, given the drug’s legalization in 30 states and Washington, DC.
Michael Lewis is the CEO of Sprig, one such company selling cannabis-infused beverages.
Before co-founding Sprig, Lewis worked in investment management. During that time, he recognized a need consumers had for a more appealing way to consume marijuana.
He then partnered with a natural product chemist, a branding firm and a company called ‘Weed Maps’, which shows people where nearby marijuana dispensaries are.
Together, those parties researched which kinds of marijuana products Americans would enjoy consuming.
Their research led Lewis to decide to focus on THC-infused citrus sodas, which Sprig has been offering for about two years.
Marijuana contains two main properties which stimulate nerve-endings called endocannibinoids: THC and CBD.
CBD relaxes the muscles while THC induces a psychotic response which is known as a ‘high’.
They currently offer a regular and a diet version of their product, which is only available to people who use marijuana to treat medical conditions in California.
‘It kind of tastes like Fresca,’ Lewis explained.
Next year, Sprig plans to create products available for recreational use, which Lewis said was the idea in mind when the product was designed.
He described the amount of THC available in his company’s products as ‘middle of the road’. Each can of soda is 12 fluid ounces, and they include 45 milligrams of THC. They sell for $7 each.
‘If you drink a can, you feel it,’ he said.
Lewis said his company’s products have helped cancer patients who use marijuana combat the side effects of chemotherapy.
He said it works for them because they can easily consume it. ‘They like the product because it’s a liquid,’ he said, explaining that it can be hard for them to stomach edibles. Lewis added that the product has also helped people sleep.
Sprig plans to start selling iced teas and coffees infused with THC in a year’s time. They are also making a version of their citrus soda with a lower dosage of marijuana.
Lewis said Sprig plans to expand their reach to other states and Canada eventually, saying: ‘We want to dominate the beverage category.’
Many states have approved the use of marijuana as a medical treatment in recent years, and some allow recreational use of the drug.
The individual states that elected to legalize the drug created rules regarding who is eligible to use it and how it can be legally distributed.
Because marijuana use is still prohibited by federal law, though, people in possession of the drug in states where weed is not legal can be arrested.