No hangovers or beer bellies: Cannabis firms try to woo booze drinkers

There are many cannabis beverages on the market. They include seltzers and wines, beers, teas and colas, as well as cocktails. Anheuser-Busch InBev and Pabst Brewing Company are just a few of the biggest beer companies in the world. Constellation Brands is also investing in cannabis drinks. Lagunitas Brewing Company, a craft brewery based in California, and SweetWater Brewing Company, based in Atlanta are both getting into the cannabis business.There are also some encouraging signs for the industry.The majority of marijuana drinks are low in calories and have little to no risk of getting hungover. According to Brightfield Group which tracks the industry's growth, cannabis beverage sales in the U.S. will reach $421 million this fiscal year, more than twice the 2019 figures and nearly $1 billion by 2025. The beverage industry is still less than 2% of the $20 billion global legal marijuana market.According to Bethany Gomez (Managing Director at Brightfields), this category can be quickly moved if it's done correctly. It's not something that anyone has mastered yet.Investors see immense wealth rolling in, but eight states have supported full legalization at the ballot box or legislatively in the past year. There are many policy, logistical and social hurdles.Traditional cannabis drinks were made and sold for hardcore customers. They have a high THC content that must be measured or the risk of frightening casual customers. Federal marijuana prohibition drives up the cost of these drinks, making it more expensive to produce, bottle, and distribute them in every state. Another problem is that dispensaries don't usually have refrigerated display boxes.Would you like to be next to Robert Mondavi or other famous wines? Yes, according to Tracey Mason (CEO of House of Saka), who has been selling cannabis wines in California since 2019 and plans to expand into Michigan and Canada. Do you see this happening in the near future? No. However, I see cannabis retail outlets changing dramatically and becoming more beverage-friendly.Luke Anderson, co-founder of Cann which sells low-potency THC sltzers in flavors like ginger lemongrass and blood orange cardamom since 2019, believes that cannabis drinks will be more popular once people become comfortable with them.Anderson explained that it is very similar to oatmilk or kombucha in the sense that consumers need to be educated about the benefits of kombucha. Anderson noted that kombucha sales were less than 1% of the beverage market fifteen years ago. It's now a dominant beverage in premium grocery stores all over the country.According to New Frontier Data, an analysis firm that focuses exclusively on the cannabis industry, sales of cannabis are expected to more than double over the next four years due to legalization.John Kagia is New Frontiers chief knowledge officer. The beverage industry offers tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation in the wider cannabis product landscape. The illicit market lacks the ability to innovate in the same way as the legal market.Keef Brands is the OG in cannabis beverages. In 2010, the company began selling THC colas 100 mg to Boulder, Colo. The company's product range has changed over the years. It introduced a 10-milligram line of drinks in 2014 that was aimed at casual cannabis consumers.With expansions into Ohio, Missouri, and Maine this year, Keef drinks can now be found in seven states and Puerto Rico. According to Travis Tharp, CEO of Keef Brands, in Colorado and California, which are the most mature markets for the company, there is roughly a 50-50 split in sales between low- and higher-potency products.Tharp stated that one of the biggest problems we have to overcome is the brownie story, which everyone seems to have. People didn't know how much they ate, then took in too much two hours later. It was an awful experience.Proselytizers of cannabis beverages point to a surprising nemesis when trying to convince consumers to try their products. They are budtenders. This is because dispensary workers often consume a lot of cannabis and are devoted to smoking smokable products.Canns Anderson stated that the company faces this problem often when it conducts secret shoppers tests. Although the customer may claim they are a casual user who isn't concerned about getting too high, nine out of ten budtenders recommend high-potency products.Pedro Fonseca is the director of retail at the legendary California dispensary chain Harborside. He said that drinks are now an integral part of the product range, accounting for 3.5 to 4% of all sales each month. In recent years, Harborsides customers have been attracted to lower potency products.Fonseca stated that you can bring it to a BBQ and not get high. It doesn't come with the stigma as if you were just smoking a blunt.It is more expensive to produce and distribute beverages than other cannabis products. Further complicating matters is the inability of marijuana products to be taken across state lines. Companies will need to replicate their manufacturing infrastructure in each state.Matthew Hawes, the founder of Novel Beverage said that we will never be able compete milligram-for-milligram with products like gummy bears. He also stated that Novel Beverage has a Maine production plant and plans to open another in Massachusetts. Commercial bottling requires scale.Anderson, a recent convert of cannabis drinks, says that his breakthrough moment was when he was struggling to identify as a queer individual.He was drained after another night of heavy drinking and felt numb.Anderson said, "I cannot allow this to happen." He recalled thinking back to his 30-year-old self.He began to work with Jake Bullock, a friend who was developing a low-THC formula for seltzers. They are now available in five states and have big expansion plans.Anderson said that it will be similar to gay marriage. Anderson also spoke of the acceptance of cannabis drinks. It will take some time before people get over it.