With the legalization of marijuana spreading throughout the US and the world, the race is apparently on to develop new and a wide variety of cannabis products as reported by Bloomberg this week. One of the categories with the largest potential is the cannabis-infused beverages market which could be a $600 million industry by 2022. Will you be in front of the line to consume once?… I am not sure if I am or will ever be one of those folks, but many are apparently and so the search continues.
Several big names in the brewing industry have stepped into the battle to create the best cannabis drinks. Companies like Constellation Brand Inc., Anheuser Busch, and Molson Coors Brewing Co have formed partnerships with cannabis firms to research and develop their next big product.
The challenge is that brewing beer and creating a cannabis drink are not similar at all. The biggest challenge presented by weed is that it is not water soluble. This insolubility creates a difficulty when trying to create a drink that will not separate out – which is known as the “salad dressing effect.” It also causes the effects of ingested marijuana to set in at much later time than alcohol and wears off much more slowly.
Scientists have been scrambling to tackle these challenges and have developed several new methods to approach them. Several researchers are looking into something called “nanoemulsification” as a solution. Sort of just rolls off the tip you tongue…doesn’t it? This process uses an agent that attaches to the cannabis molecules and helps them to better blend and evenly disperse throughout the water. Cannabiniers, which makes a non-alcoholic cannabis-infused beer, claims that the effects from its products will set in after 10 minutes and be gone after about 90.
Kevin Love, vice president of market activations, said, “We really do emulate the bell curve of consumption for traditional alcohol products that we do have a rapid onset and quick offset.”
Other methods being employed and researched include substituting cannabis plant parts for barley in the beer brewing process and using glycosylation, which attaches a glucose molecule to the cannabis and allows it to remain in the water and not separate out.
Despite the difficulty in creating a cannabis drink, Ronan Levy, a chief strategy officer at Trait Biosciences Inc., is confident in the future of the industry. “There’s a strong sentiment that beverages are probably going to become the leading mechanism for ingestion. They just haven’t yet because the truth is that most products out there are kind of terrible.”