The first time Dooma Wendschuh tried brewing cannabis into beer, it “tasted like rotten broccoli,” the co-founder of Belleville, Ont. startup Province Brands told The Guardian. But once he figured it out, the resulting “beer” — which is gluten-free and does not contain alcohol — was “dry, savoury, less sweet than a typical beer flavour,” Wendschuh told the British paper. “The beer hits you very quickly, which is not common for a marijuana edible.”
Wendschuh moved to Toronto from Miami in 2016, seeing a market opportunity in Canada’s upcoming marijuana legalization. Drinks and edible forms of weed won’t instantly become legal once provinces start selling pot in October — edibles won’t be sold until several months later, the government has said — but companies are already rushing to fulfill that future demand.
Research on alcohol sales in U.S. states that have legalized pot predicts that cannabis could grab up to 20 per cent of the Canadian alcohol market. Ontario-based Canopy Growth, the first publicly-traded cannabis company in North America, is researching cannabis-infused cocktails. “We’re going to create a platform of products that will be great for a party and in demand globally,” Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton told CBC in June. “We think beverages are going to fit in.” Molson-Coors is also looking into weed-infused beer.
Beverage producers found some success internationally. The U.S. craft brewer Lagunitas — which is owned by Heineken — is selling an “IPA-inspired” non-alcoholic “beer” infused with cannabis, in California dispensaries. Legion of Bloom, a California pot provider, has also introduced a sparkling wine infused with cannabis, the Los Angeles Times reported last summer. And late last year, the California winery Rebel Coast announced plans to release a Sauvignon Blanc “weed wine.” Like the “beers,” the wine is non-alcoholic — THC “replaces” alcohol, as the company explains it.