Weed Drinks Are Set to Dominate the Cannabis Market in Canada

Article by Manisha Krishnan, Vice News

Weed Drinks Are Set to Dominate the Cannabis Market in Canada From cannabis beer to margarita-flavoured THC tonics, weed companies are betting big on beverages. Preserve Indulgence hosts seven-course infused dinners in Toronto. Photos courtesy Preserve Indulgence. WEED | By Manisha Krishnan |

As I sit here writing a story about the future of edibles, I’m battling an edible-induced hangover.

I can’t really blame anyone but myself. I smoked some weed at home and then to satisfy my accompanying munchies, I ate a medicated brownie because I had no other snacks in the house. At midnight. It was tasty so I ate the whole thing, which I’m told contained about 90 milligrams of THC—nine times Canada’s likely legal serving size. I fell asleep immediately and it’s now well into the next day but I still feel like 90 percent of my brain is sedated.

I bring this up because the potential for “greening out” is one of the main discussions currently taking place around edibles—the next frontier of cannabis legalization in Canada and already big business in legal US markets. The Canadian government has promised to regulate the sale of edibles by October 17 and companies both large and small are gearing up for that. (Though, as was the case with brick and mortar pot shops in Ontario, actual sales may not take place until after that.)

While legalizing dried cannabis and oils have certainly presented challenges—the supply shortage and quality of product to name a couple—edibles are a whole different beast. There are concerns about dosage, food safety, lack of public education, and, of course, keeping them out of the hands of children. The payoff is an industry predicted to be worth $5 billion in the US and Canada by 2022—four times what it was in 2017, according to ArcView Market Research, a firm that collects data on the cannabis industry.

Canada’s approach to regulating edibles will be cautious. Proposed regulations from Health Canada indicate that the federal government wants to impose a limit of 10 milligrams of THC per package for edible cannabis in solid and beverage forms; a limit of 10 mg of THC per unit for ingestible extracts and 1,000 mg per package; plain, child-resistant packaging; a ban on mixing with alcohol or nicotine and on having elements that people would associate with alcohol; and a ban on products that are appealing to kids. Ten milligrams of THC is considered a pretty low dose—it’s easy to find black market edibles that are 100 mg of THC per dose. US states that have legal recreational weed, such as California, Washington, and Colorado have 10-milligram THC limits for a single serving—e.g. one gummy—but packages can contain multiple servings. California has moved to ban edibles featuring faces and animals, humans, and gummies and Washington has cracked down on the shapes and colours allowed.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the nascent edibles industry.

Beverages

While gummies are the most popular edible items in legal US states, several companies are betting big on cannabis beverages. Constellation Brands, producer of Corona beer, invested $5 billion for a 38 percent stake in Canadian weed giant Canopy, with plans to introduce a line of infused drinks and other products. Meanwhile, Molson Coors has paired up with Quebec licensed producer Hexo Corp. to launch Truss, a line of weed drinks. BC-based licensed producer Tilray has partnered with Budweiser producer Anheuser-Busch InBev to research THC and CBD drinks in Canada, with each company investing $50 million in the venture.

Dooma Wendschuh, 42, founder of weed beer producer Province Brands seems mildly offended when I tell him some people think the idea of combining weed and beer is gross.

“When I think of cannabis and beer, I think of two of the greatest things that have ever been invented combined into the same beverage,” he says. Province is currently brewing out of a plant in Quebec City while it builds a 123,000-square-foot brewery outside of Toronto. Wendschuh says Province will eventually produce 20,000 hectolitres of weed beer—though with more capital, he says that volume could increase to 175,000 hectolitres. For comparison, Toronto-based craft brewer Steam Whistle produces about 95,000 hectolitres of beer annually.

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