August 5, 2018
Mike Adams, CONTRIBUTOR
Once upon a time, back when I was in my early twenties, there was this cool, old, homeless guy who hung out in front of the local liquor store almost daily. He’d sit out there as long as it took to cleverly persuade the droves of customers coming in and out of the place to cough up enough spare change so he could buy the booze necessary to get through the misery of the day. Admittedly, I got caught up in this racket on more than one occasion. I’d be on my way through the door and he’d say something like, “Young man, young man… could you help a brother get an ice cold beer.” Sometimes I was flush enough to facilitate. Other times, not so much. But the one thing I remember him saying to me on those days when I could afford to give a few bucks to put a bottle of brew in his shaky, wrinkled hands was, “The only thing better than a cold beer is a joint. And if you got both, well, son, there ain’t nothing better than that.” Then he’d ask me if I had any weed. He was always trying to squeeze me for little more, that guy.
Fast forward twenty years or so, and I cannot help but think about how that old school beggar, who has since moved on to solicit his daily sloshed funds in front of the great liquor store in the sky, would be intrigued, perhaps even moved at the spiritual level, to find out that beer companies are now getting into the business of marijuana. I wonder what his response would be once I revealed that several big dogs of the brewing world, including Constellation Brands (maker of Corona) and Molson-Coors, are currently masterminding a variety of cannabis beverages in hopes of cashing in on legal weed? Knowing him, he would probably ask how much those “funny beers” cost and then try to con me into buying him one. And once I explained that those pot-infused products have yet to hit the market, he might counter with a, “That’s alright, young man, the regular kind will do.”
But in retrospect, consideration the man’s slick, salesman-like swagger — regardless of whether it was bitter cold outside or hotter than the devil himself — I imagine his reaction would resonate more philosophical than that of a desperate alcoholic. Maybe he’d try to inspire me with something like, “Young man, young man, the only thing that could possibly make a cold beer taste better is if it gets you drunk and high at the same time. And by you, I mean me,” he might add while shaking me down for another dollar.
We’d probably share a laugh, maybe even slap each other a friendly high-five before I was forced to divulge the horrible truth about the latest development on the inebriation circuit: You see, beer that produces the dynamic duo of drunk and stoned effects is not a product trend that appears likely to catch on anytime soon.
In California, which launched its recreational cannabis market at the beginning of the year, regulatory prudes have already put a stop to the concept of THC-booze combinations. The state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) recently issued a memo explaining how it is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages that also contain marijuana derivatives. The rule was established, or so the memo states, because “cannabis cannot be sold in the same premises as alcoholic beverages” and “regulations issued by the California Department of Public Health prohibit the sale of “edible cannabis products” as alcoholic beverages.” Other legal pot states are expected to follow this regulatory model.
But this does not mean the dream of cannabis brew is dead in the water – far from it, actually.
Lagunitas Brewing Company, which is owned by Heineken, recently began distributing its beer-like Hi-Fi Hops throughout the Golden State. This is an IPA-inspired sparkling water that is free of alcohol, calories and carbs. What makes this a product powerhouse is it’s completely copacetic with the new ABC rules. It is the template for how beer companies will need to get in on the legal cannabis trade.
While Hi-Fi Hops may be devoid of alcohol, make no mistake about it – sucking down a few of these bad boys like a teenager on prom night has the strength to put the unsuspecting drinker flat on their backside.
Each 12-ounce can, which retails for $8, comes with a THC level of 10 milligrams. Try drinking a six-pack of this stuff in a single setting, if you can afford to purchase that many at once, and you’ll feel somewhere between the barroom scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the final 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is not necessarily a bad place to be if you are what is considered an experienced cannabis user. Yet, for the novice just coming onto the scene, that is to say someone who rarely gets high, more than 20 milligrams of THC at a time could inspire all sorts of anxious moments. But don’t let that scare you or stop you from trying it.
Blue Moon creator Keith Villa and his company Ceria Beverages is another U.S.-based operation dedicated to producing non-alcoholic beverages with varying levels of THC. This beer is supposed to be distributed throughout Colorado at some point soon.
Canadian brewers also seem to understand that the combination of alcohol and cannabis is bad idea. Ontario-based Province Brands has designed the first-ever beer made entirely from the cannabis plant. The beverage “is brewed from the stalks, stem and roots of the cannabis plant” rather than barley, like traditional beers. This too is a non-alcoholic concoction that comes packed with around 6.5 milligrams of THC.
Dooma Wendschuh, a spokesperson for the company, told The Guardian that he hopes consumers will use the THC beer as an alternative to alcohol. As Forbes reported a few weeks ago, cannabis brews, like the ones from Province, Lagunitas, and Ceria could prevent heavy drinkers from succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver.
Molson Coors gets it. The brewing giant announced earlier last week that it would soon create a line of non-alcoholic, THC-infused beverages to be sold on the Canadian cannabis market. It is a move intended to make the company more of a participant in legal marijuana rather than just a spectator.
“Consumers who want to enjoy cannabis as they would a beer – in moderation – are able to do so, which is quickly driving acceptance and adoption,” CEO Mark Hunter said in a statement. “And, just as generations of beer drinkers have relied on Molson Coors Canada for high-quality products from a source they can trust, cannabis consumers will know they can continue to trust the joint venture as it enters this new market with non-alcoholic cannabis-infused beverages.”
So far, all of the major brewers planning to dabble in the Canadian pot market have said it is a test for when the United States finally ends pot prohibition nationwide once and for all. “We believe potentially it’s got really significant potential and we’re going to learn a lot,” Hunter said. “If other markets start to open up in due course and this becomes federally legal, then we’ll be in a good place at that point in time.”
Well, it’s somewhere between 4:20 and 5 o’clock somewhere, and I’m getting thirsty. Anyone have a few bucks they can spare?