May 22, 2018
With legalization looming, Province Brands is using university research and government grants to try and suss out the perfect formula for a non-alcoholic beer that will still get you stoned.
by Zach Harris
If all goes as planned, we'll be drinking green beer by next St. Patrick's Day without the aid of any extracurricular food coloring.
As Canada prepares to welcome a nationwide marketplace for legal cannabis, ganjapreneurs across the Great White North are already getting down to business, making sure their grow houses, extraction facilities, and specialty products are ready for the end of prohibition. In Ontario, one Canadian cannabis company is bringing together weed industry expertise, university scientists, and government grants, all in the pursuit of a commercially-viable product that tastes like beer but gets you stoned like ganja.
According to CBC News, Toronto-based Province Brands is leading the charge for Canada's own infused brew, carving a barley-free path to liquid prosperity. Province, which specializes in alcohol-free infused beers and spirits, has now teamed up with researchers and students at Loyalist College's Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis and secured financial grants from the Ontario government to try their hand at creating a non-alcoholic beer that replaces barley with bud.
"They're working through the recipe development right now. They've done a lot of work ahead of time looking specifically at the details of the process through design of experiment," Loyalist professor Kari Kramp told CBC Radio. "It's unique because there are some challenges that are different when you're working with hemp and marijuana than if you're working with traditional grains like barley."
Stateside, America's slow-churning (and piecemeal) push towards cannabis legalization is having a similar effect on the nation's multi-billion dollar alcohol industry, with a who's who of hooch companies and booze bigwigs either investing millions of dollars in legal weed or ditching alcohol altogether for the green rush.
In Colorado, Keith Villa, the brewmaster behind Blue Moon, is already working on producing a booze-free beer that uses traditional techniques, before adding water-soluble cannabis concentrates and removing any trace of alcohol. And in a move that will potentially challenge Province Brands for Canada's bud-beer market share, alcohol conglomerate Constellation Brands, the parent company of Modelo beer and Svedka vodka, invested nearly $200 million in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth with plans to produce its very own line of infused beverages.
But while weed beer is quickly turning into the cannabis industry's latest obsession for deep-pocketed players, at least one U.S. state is already on its way to completely outlawing the hybridized beverage.
According to Detroit News, the Michigan State Senate voted late last week to ban what they defined as "marijuana-infused beer." Like Canada, Colorado, and most other places with some form of legalization, Michigan's current medical and proposed recreational cannabis regulations prohibit alcohol and cannabis from being sold as part of the same product (thus why many of these new beverages are alcohol-free). Though Michigan won't vote on recreational legalization until November, Great Lake State legislators have already put the kibosh on stoned suds.
"If we don't ban it, we're going to have it, and it is a recipe for disaster," Republican Senator Rick Jones said. "If you want it, go to Colorado or Canada. We don't need it here."
Across the northern border in Ontario, we're guessing that the research and development team behind Province Brands' infused brew will welcome those additional customers with open arms. So far, there's no timetable for when the new Canadian beverage will hit pot shops in Toronto and Vancouver, but researchers say the final product will have a nutty flavor. We'll drink to that — as long as it gets us stoned, of course.
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