Drinkable cannabis is set to take off in Canada as beverage companies invest in developing innovative cannabis-infused beverages in order to be ready for 2019, when edible sales will be legalized.
When it comes to these new cannabis drinks, there are far more options than simply adding cannabis to a drink.
As Jason Stranak, the Head Judge of this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards, said, “I think the market is potentially huge for different varieties of it, whether it’s non-alcoholic with cannabis effects, or alcoholic beer with cannabis flavours, or something in between where you’re doubling up on cannabis and alcohol. There’s potential,” according to CTV.
All three of these options are being explored by various companies as the drink industry is realizing the potential that cannabis has in creating brand new product categories for Canadian consumers to enjoy.
Brewing with cannabis
One of the most interesting of these companies is Province Brands, who are developing a new drink brewed entirely from cannabis.
As CEO Dooma Wendshuch told CBC, “People have been experimenting for many years by substituting hops with marijuana. We did something totally different which is to find a way to brew a beer from the cannabis plant itself.”
He doesn’t want to simply mix alcohol and cannabis. He wants to make something new that is less harmful than alcohol as he told CTV, “Cannabis is by far a safer and healthier alternative to alcohol, and this is the first time in any of our lifetimes that we’re able to bring a product like that to market.”
Basically, Wendshuch’s company aims to make a psychoactive, non-alcoholic drink which is only being made possible by changing cannabis laws.
Cannabis-infused flavours for discerning tastes
“There are some aromas or flavours that come from hemp or cannabis that do pair nicely into beer, and that is something that people have been working on,” Emily Tipton, President of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, explained to CTV, “So without any of the effects of cannabis, just the flavours and aromas of it”.
Canadian company Les Quatre Vins infuses cava, a traditional Spanish sparkling wine, with the flavours of cannabis using a patent-pending extraction process, and it already has people buzzing, winning the 2018 Best New Product category at Spannabis Barcelona, one of Spain’s biggest cannabis trade shows.
Even better for the makers of Les Quatre Vins, since they are only infusing the aroma and flavour of cannabis into their sparkling wines and not the psychoactive components, their products can be sold anywhere- unlike if they were infusing their wines with THC.
Another company, Toronto-based Hill Street Beverages, is also getting into cannabis-infused beverages in a big way, having recently appointed new executives (CFO and CMO) to support their foray into cannabis-infused drinks. Hill Street CEO Terry Donnelly believes [CFO and CMO] Chambers and Pullara are uniquely qualified to support the company in introducing its first cannabis-infused beverages while also making its portfolio of alcohol-free beers and wines available in over 7,000 stores across Canada.