Once upon a time, it was widely assumed that as soon as marijuana was decriminalized, tobacco companies would plunge into the market with smokable offerings.
That didn’t happen. Instead, it’s the beverage industry taking the lead in commercializing and marketing weed-based products.
THC-infused beverages are being developed and introduced by some of the biggest names in the business, including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Bud maker Anheuser-Busch and Constellation, maker of Corona beer.
As CNBC reports, “new emulsion technology has made it possible to mix THC into an array of beverages. Now, drink makers are betting that people who don’t want to smoke or vape marijuana or drink alcohol because of health or social reasons can find an alternative in cannabis beverages.”
In hindsight, it seems like a no-brainer. Smoking carries a stigma. But drinking — that’s a long-standing social custom.
Moreover, the connection between drinking and getting buzzed is well understood. So it’s a very small step from selling beer or wine to selling weed-based drinks.
Pabst is selling non-alcoholic “High Seltzers” containing 10 milligrams of THC — “the right amount to have a good time,” according to the company.
The High Seltzers, in a variety of fruity flavors, are available online and through dispensaries selling recreational or medical pot.
Brightfield Group, a market researcher, is forecasting that the U.S. market for cannabis beverages will reach $1 billion in sales by 2025.
Clearly it’s time for federal lawmakers to wake up and smell the 21st century. A long-overdue overhaul of national drug laws is needed to give cannabis the regulatory status required for access to the banking system and other sources of funding.
That’s not to say I’m advocating consumption of these products, just as I’m not telling anyone to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.
But like the man said, the times they are a-changing.
The private sector is declaring loud and clear that this is the future. The public sector needs to quit harshing that mellow.