Summer is in full force. So rather than gulping down an ice-cold beer, Angelenos are trading IPAs for cannabis cocktails. Drinking weed is becoming wildly popular. It’s also madly refreshing. Perhaps the appeal to cannabis cocktails — no hangovers.
These cannabis-infused beverages are an alternative to alcohol and feature a generous amount of cannabis and other natural ingredients. And while they’re not a substitute for alcoholic drinks, there’s something magical about sipping weed versus smoking it. Infused beverages are rising in popularity in states where recreational cannabis use is legal.
The Story Of Two Angelenos And Their Weed
North Hollywood native, Cynthia*, 41, was skeptical about ashing her sativa blunt to opt for a cannabis cocktail. In fact, among her circle of friends, she is known as the “sativa diva.”
However, she wanted to find a way she could still consume weed during her workday without having to smoke and move about without the lingering marijuana smell. Edibles, Cynthia shared, got her too high and inhibited her from staying focused at work. Plus, edibles weren’t her thing. So when it came to the infused beverages, she was skeptical. Plus, sativa gave her the extra “oomph” she liked without slowing her down.
“I needed something that could help ease my stress levels at work,” Cynthia said. “My job can get overwhelming and sometimes it’s nice to take the edge off with a little weed.”
Cynthia works as a producer for several television shows and while her job is cannabis-friendly, she said she wanted to be discreet about her cannabis use. Curious about cannabis cocktails, she decided to try Major’s Infused THC Weed drinks.
After chilling the Major’s strawberry lemonade, she discreetly popped the bottle at work and poured 10 mg into her coffee mug. Major’s bottle also has a label with a dosage guide up to 100 mg, which gave her control of the amount of cannabis she could sip at a time.
“It tasted like lemonade,” she said with a laugh. “I had to double-check the label to make sure there was THC in it. I hardly could taste the weed.”
Five, 10 mg, doses later, Cynthia sipped her way to — STONED.
“This eliminated the need to sneak outside for a quick toke in my car,” she said. “It’s a total game-changer.”
Surprised at how loose and relaxed she felt, she was more surprised at how high she was. The rest of the day she was glued to her computer, knocking out work tasks.
“In all honesty, it’s still not a work-type beverage to consume. It’s more of a social drink,” she said candidly. “But it got me high, which is what I wanted.”
She would drink it again, but with less of a dose, she shared.
Across town, Santiago*, 37, from Torrance once had the capability of smoking weed at his leisure, but since becoming a dad, it became more of a chore. So he quit altogether. Working as an IT specialist, at a 4/20 friendly job, Santiago heard about cannabis cocktails from his coworkers.
Like Cynthia, his curiosity was piquing and led him to peruse cannabis delivery websites like Hellapaxx.com to learn more about “social tonics.” At work, his colleagues recommended he tried Cann, a celebrity-endorsed cannabis beverage with a low dose of 2 mg of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD per 7.5 ounces a can. The low THC dosage, ultimately is what attracted Santiago to Cann.
“Since I hadn’t smoked in eight years,” he said. “I figured it wouldn’t leave me smacked high in the middle of my day or too high that I couldn’t function around my daughter.”
Taking his first sip of Cann’s “Hi-Boy,” Pineapple Jalapeno,” he reveled in the moment. With a deep sigh and a nod of approval, Santiago realized he found his new 2 p.m. “pick me up.”
“This is great,” he said with a grin. “I’m such a weed lightweight nowadays that this is all I really need.”
Edibles were always an option to try, but two things kept him from purchasing edibles — he didn’t want to get too high and feared his daughter would accidentally find them and mistake them for something she could eat. Another cool allure of the drinks, according to Santiago, is the push and turn vials on some bottles, while others, like Green Monkee, have complicated and hard to open tabs. In the case of Tinsley’s Tonics, the amber bottle requires a bottle opener.
“No matter how careful one can be with edibles,” Santiago said. “You can never be too careful with edibles around children. I never want to take a chance.”
Discovering cannabis cocktails, Santiago shared, allowed him to dabble in cannabis again, which is something he secretly wanted to get back into.
Cannabis Cocktails And The New Kind Of Stoner
Cannabis cocktails are alcohol-free and infused with weed instead. They come in all forms, too. Some are seltzers, teas, tonics, juices, soft drinks, beer-like, lemonades or even powder mixes. Ultimately, it comes down to preference — in fact, cannabis cocktails also come in CBD and Delta-8 form.
“Cann’s CEO Luke Anderson talking about the diversity of Cann cannabis beverages”
So as more people opt to get high with the pull of a tab, Cann co-founders, Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock have tapped into a demographic of cannabis users like Santiago and even some who are merely toking for the first time.
Cann has also been endorsed by a number of celebrities — Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Darren Criss, Baron Davis, Tove Lo, Casey Neistat and Bre-Z who all seem to agree cannabis beverages are an alternative to alcohol. Paltrow, at the helm of the celebrity endorsement, said, “There’s no reason why alcohol should be so much easier to purchase than Cann, and I’m confident the founders will lead the charge in finding ways to integrate it into the same purchasing channels and drinking environments.”
Anderson also said, in October 2020 that he believed low-dose cannabis drinks would find their way onto mainstream retail store shelves within the next few years. When that happened he anticipated that alcohol companies would come knocking. But the thing is, alcohol companies like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Corona are already tapping into cannabis space and releasing their own concoctions of cannabis cocktails.
“There’s a whole sober-curious movement that’s going on and the cannabis-curious movement that’s going on, this is kind of at the intersection of those things in a way,” shared Paltrow, who also said marijuana is the “hero ingredient of the future.”
The concept of cannabis cocktails sparks a new conversation about weed and changes the perception of the stereotype “stoner.” It also welcomes a more eclectic demographic of consumers than ever before, according to Anderson.
“Cannabis is not approachable to a lot of people,” Anderson explained to CampNova. “because the idea of being a stoner is scary to people who were taught growing up, ‘that’s bad.”
Cannabis is a different experience for consumers, but traditional smoking and alcohol use raise health concerns for some, thus making the latest cannabis alternative appealing.
“This [cannabis beverages] is something that somebody who is a Black-trans woman in Illinois could like,” Anderson said. “And it’s something that a 75-year- old man who can’t drink alcohol anymore and wants something to hold on the golf course could like. And everywhere in between.”
Why the rise in popularity?
Cannabis and alcohol are popular social substances and with a growing number of states instituting cannabis legal or pushing decriminalization, companies are exploring how to capitalize off the expanding market.
THC and CBD beverages are generally considered “safer” substances to consume than alcohol. While tolerance is different from person to person, cannabis affects a person’s senses much more mildly than alcohol. This, combined with the fact cannabis beers contain no alcohol, gives it the benefit of being an enjoyable alternative to drinking regular beer while also containing far fewer calories and sugar.
Cannabis drinks can potentially have a similar potency to an edible, making them stronger than a joint or bowl, but take less time to kick in for most people, according to market researchers.
Cannabis-infused drinks are becoming the new common that like smoke sesh or social drinking, allows people to kick back with friends, relax and get high without having to smoke anything.
Beyond the aforementioned brands, there are dozens of beverage companies offering similar drinks by releasing their versions of THC and CBD beverages with no alcohol content. For example, Lagunitas and Blue Moon have also launched lines of THC beer, while Corona is rumored to considering doing the same. Furthermore, a number of microbreweries are also rumored to also have made their version of THC beers.
Cannabis-Infused Water and Soda
For those who are not fans of beer or alcohol in general there are plenty of alternatives, like Recess. Recess is a hemp-infused seltzer company that makes its sparkling water in a wide variety of flavors, including peach ginger, coconut line, black cherry and other flavors. Or for the standard soda drinker, there is Canna Cola, a cola company that makes all the sodas like cola, black cherry, peach, wild berry and even fruit punch with 10mg of CBD in them.
How High? Pretty High.
It has been reported that cannabis cocktails are more potent than simply puffing on a vape or hitting a joint. Since you feel the effects just a tad bit quicker, at least 15 minutes, depending on the type of beverage. Perhaps the biggest difference is the onset time between beverages and edibles—drinks kick in more quickly than THC-infused foods and this may take some getting used to.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.