Dive Brief: Partnerships between big alcohol companies and cannabis firms are struggling to develop consumer-friendly pot-infused drinks that can give alcohol a run for its money. It’s difficult because cannabis and alcohol are different and don’t metabolize at the same rate, Bloomberg reported. One major difference is that alcohol is water-soluble but cannabis is not. Booze is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream while pot-infused products take longer to make it through the digestive process. Synchronizing this so-called “onset time” is challenging those making cannabis-infused beverages, Bloomberg reported. Currently, cannabis beverages comprise less than 0.5% of total U.S. legal pot sales, according to BDS Analytics. As cannabis-infused beverages become more widely legalized and the market category is projected to be valued at $600 million by 2022, manufacturers are looking to quickly make progress on these weed drinks. Dive Insight:
Some major alcohol companies have partnered with cannabis firms to develop CBD or THC-infused beverages to unlock new growth as they face a slumping beer market.
There are a lot of companies working toward this goal, especially since recreational cannabis use has been legal in Canada since October. Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona and Modelo beers, owns a 38% share of cannabis company Canopy Growth. AB InBev’s Labatt Breweries’ Canadian subsidiary is working with cannabis producer and distributor Tilray, with each company putting in $50 million toward creating these beverages. There’s also Molson Coors Brewing, which has a controlling interest in HEXO, formerly known as Hydropothecary, to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.
Industry observers told Bloomberg that winning over consumers will mean developing beverages with a low percentage of intoxicant that can be consumed over several hours and still enjoy “a steady, moderate high.” Methods of solving these challenges include making cannabis compounds water soluble to adjust the onset time, although Canopy CEO Bruce Linton