July 1, 2018
An Alberta-based cannabis producer is hoping to grease the wheels of the liquor industry with a little marijuana oil.
Element GP, based in Clearwater County, plans to provide the key ingredient for a non-alcoholic beer that is brewed from cannabis oil.
The producer has joined forces with Toronto-based Province Brands of Canada to create the concoction, which they describe as a safer alternative to alcohol.
Under the new business alliance, Element GP will produce custom marijuana oil for a new line of barley brews.
Province Brands heralded the cannabis-based beer — which is still in development with patent pending — as the first of its kind. They say cracking open one of their cold ones would provide a short-lived buzz similar to an alcoholic beer.
Researchers at Toronto's Loyalist College have been working on the recipe for months.
"All Province Brands beverage products will feature its accelerant to shorten the intoxicating onset time as well as its proprietary decelerant to shorten the offset time, ultimately creating a dose-response curve similar to that of alcohol," reads a news release.
The cannabis oil for the heady drink would be sourced from a new cannabis production facility in Clearwater County.
Element is seeking both Health Canada and municipal approval to build a 55,000 square-foot cultivation centre near Sundre, Alta., about 115 kilometres north of Calgary.
Big plans, hazy regulations
Province Brands of Canada said the beer itself would be brewed somewhere in Canada at a "substantial" commercial brewery it plans to build in anticipation of legalization.
There is a chance, however, that plans for brewing cannabis beer could go up in smoke.
Even after October 17, it's unclear when retail outlets will legally be able to stock cannabis edibles and beverages.
I can make it, but no one is allowed to drink it. - Dooma Wendschuh
The federal government has said the sale of edible cannabis products will not be legal immediately.
The hazy future of regulations has forced companies like Province Brands to get creative.
Co-founder Dooma Wendschuh said it's been "more or less impossible" to work in Canada.
While his team can make small batches of product here, Canadian law prohibits them from doing taste tests, he said.
"If I wanted to open an ice cream parlour, I could just open it. If I wanted to make a new flavour of ice cream, I could just make it. If I want to make a marijuana beverage, I can make it, but no one is allowed to drink it," Wendschuh said.The company has been very careful to work within the law, doing taste-testing outside of Canada and, when back at home, working with hemp instead of marijuana, he said.
So far they've created an India pale ale and an imperial pilsner, Wendschuh said, and they're looking forward to the day that they can finally sell their products.