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Canna Aid

Hemp Beverages: Fad or Future?

A New Sip

Imagine that legalization is like just about anything else in the postmodern world: when humans have access to cannabis in its many forms—whether through CBD, hemp, THC, or any number of derivatives thereof—everything associated with that form grows and blossoms. For consumers looking for their own best method of cannabis interaction, the varieties of experience continue to multiply. Some favor combustion while others like to imbibe the stuff directly—and the market continues to expand to reflect that simple fact.

Hemp and cannabis beverages are the latest in this consumer-driven quest to find the perfect method of getting the essential chemicals found in the cannabis plant—from the garden to the body, the body to the mind. Their newfound popularity, especially among millennials and post-millennials, has spurred innovation among manufacturers and retailers eager to meet the demands of aficionados seeking their best personal experience by indulging in a liquid variation of an age-old botanical ritual.

 

And though edibles have long been a part of dispensary and smoke shop spaces, their intensity and unpredictability have sometimes limited their use among the general public. Meanwhile, the introduction, proliferation, and popularity of hemp-derived CBD and THC (of all molecular varieties) infused beverages adds a tasty, flavorfully efficient, and more
predictable product for customers to latch onto, while providing the potential for sustained profitability to small business owners.

Nick Zavakos, the co-founder of Know Naturals, a quickly rising edibles manufacturer and distributor, addressed these issues in a recent conversation. Speaking to the age-old question of edible intensity, for example, Zavakos reminded us that the heavy feelings and unpredictability sometimes associated with edibles come from the human body’s metabolic processes. Edibles like gummies are metabolized in the liver, changing the THC to a much more potent form in the process. “Most standard edibles take a long time for the body to metabolize. Then, there’s a delayed effect, couchlock. Some people get severe anxiety. That was our first R&D hurdle from an edible, and later, a beverage standpoint.”

The solution, of course, is to use mediums that allow THC to be absorbed before it gets to the
liver, where it’s chemically intensified. For gummies, that meant switching to a more soluble lipid than gelatin or other medium-chain triglycerides. The end result, he says, is a product with “a ten-to-fifteen-minute onset and a 90-to-100-minute duration, when properly used.”

For beverages, the question became a matter of introducing water- soluble THC into the mix.
Both practices had a very practical goal in mind: providing the opportunity for a positive consumer experience that was socially based and sustainable.

“It’s the whole social nature of drinks and drinking,” Zavakos explains, “the consumer psychology related to that. We kept coming back to it. In the settings we’re targeting—bars, concerts, festivals, summertime activities—people don’t want to just pop a gummy and get on with it. They want to sit and enjoy their friends’ company, be refreshed; having a drink in hand is part of that experience. Realizing that really steered us toward beverages. And the water-soluble THC we’re working with has a better onset time and is just as predictable as our reformulated gummies.” Nick adds that Know Naturals plans to launch their new brand of fast-acting, water-soluble THC beverages, dubbed “MoodShine,” this summer.

Getting immersed in this emerging market comes with the understanding that there is a transformation going on in American culture. It started with legalization and social acceptance and is evolving toward a new culture where alcohol has been replaced in many social situations by a happier and healthier drink.

Once they get on board with this blazing new trend, consumers are likely to run into a heady brew of manufacturers, distributors, and retail outlets dedicated to this potent off-shoot of the edibles market. We took the time, however, to do the research, speaking with industry experts and conducting our own scientific inquiries. Of course, Know Naturals is at the top of our list, mostly because of innovation and a commitment to R&D that’s focused on everyday imbibers—but also because they’ve been working with us on a steady stream of hemp- related content over the past three months and have demonstrated a deep knowledge of the space. We also thought it prudent to mention some of the other business forces  shaping this emerging market. 

High Rise Beverage Company, currently one of the most popular hemp beverage outfits, offers real fruit-infused CBD and Delta-9 THC seltzers marketed as plant-based alternatives to alcohol. Well, alcohol is plant-based too, but the difference here is more about health and risk reduction, and finding one’s personal bliss. Founders Matt and Libiss Skinner based their business model on “genuine connections and natural healing,” very much in contrast to the American liquor industry. Their products reflect  both attention to craft and a sense  of well-being that can be accessed  with just a few sips of seltzer, a place “where life unfolds as a celebration of bold, imperfect moments infused with magic.”

Their Delta 9 beverages contain between 5mg and 20mg of THC and 10mg of CBD per 12-ounce can, while their CBD seltzers are infused with 20mg of CBD and 10mg of CBG per 12-ounce can. All of High Rise’s products are designed with the consumer experience in mind. 

“Our mission at High Rise is to craft hemp-derived cannabis beverages that evoke the essence of natural purity and connection,” says High Rise founder, Matt Skinner. “Each can encapsulate the joy of sharing laughter around a bonfire, the enchantment of vibrant sunsets, and the soothing symphony of crashing waves—all moments woven with camaraderie and a splash of free-spirited fun.”

Cycling Frog has also caught the attention of those in the know, you know: the 20- and -30-s ome t hing American consumers who dig a certain hemp or THC-infused twist to go along with their near-constant seltzer drinking ways while participating in any number of social occasions. One of the brand’s big catchphrases is “Ditch The Hangover.” The brand markets itself as a lifestyle choice and has a super cool manifesto confirming that youthful attitude, telling potential drinkers of said frog juice that, “Cycling Frog isn’t just a brand. It’s a statement. It’s the belief that cannabis consumption should be normalized. Cannabis should be affordable. Cannabis should be accessible. Cannabis is fun. Cannabis should be enjoyed with
the same ease as your favorite sparkling water or beer, and we at Cycling Frog are here to make that happen.”

Using sustainably farmed hemp grown in central Oregon, these beverages are free of any pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, and harmful microbes, according to the manufacturer. They’re also available in a variety of potencies, ranging from 5mg THC/10mg CBD flavored seltzers to 50mg THC/50mg CBD Ice Tea Lemonade.

The brands mentioned in this brief report are but the tip of the ice cube in a refreshing medicated seltzer. Dozens of hemp beverage brands are popping up around the country, showing up in smoke shops, bars, and liquor stores, offering consumers a new social lubricant that features all of the fun, with none of the hangover. Turn the page for a more exhaustive list of the products available in this promising new sector—and then pray Congress doesn’t take the American Cannabis Council’s industry-damning suggestions (see page 90) when they revisit the Farm Bill this year. 

Lifted Libations

7 High-Minded Hemp Beverages to Spice Up the Ice Box

Hemp beverages are gaining popularity in smoke shops, bars, and liquor stores offering a range of flavors and wellness benefits. This list is but a starting point to help you find refreshing alternatives that cater to health-conscious customers seeking something that will enhance their evening without sacrificing their morning.

Sipz THC Seltzers

Sipz THC Seltzers from Five CBD provide a balanced buzz with 2mg each of THC and CBD, perfect for relaxation without overwhelming effects. Each 40-calorie can comes in three tasty flavors, offering a hangover-free indulgence.

fivecbd.com/pages/wholesale

Sipz Product Image
Delta Cannabis Water Image

DELTA Cannabis Water

DELTA Cannabis Water offers a euphoric, relaxing, and calming experience with zero sugar. Each 12 oz can has 20mg Delta 9 THC, 2mg or 10mg CBD, and is infused with Maui Wowie or Wedding Cake terpenes.
Ideal for expert users.

wholesale.drinkdelta.com

Tre House D9+ Syrup

TRE House Delta 9+ Syrup packs 1000mg of Delta 9 and Delta 8 per bottle, available in Bussin’ Berry or Watermelon flavor. Vegan and offering 23 servings, it gets you impressively baked and chillaxed. Energetic effects included. Caution: That’s a lot of THC. Hot. Damn.

wholesale.treehouse.com

Trehouse Product Image Delta 9 Syrup Bussin' Berry
Canna Elite Lemonade Image

CannaElite Lemonade

CannaElite Confectionary Lemonade offers 150mg Delta 9 THC in organic, globally sourced confections. Available in five lemon flavors, each 1/3 bottle serving delivers 50mg THC with a 45-75 minute onset. Slip slowly; it packs a punch.

canna-elite.com

High Rise Seltzers

One of the more popular brands in the space, High Rise offers real-fruit infused beverages with 20mg CBD/10mg CBG or 10mg CBD/5mg THC. Designed for health-conscious enjoyment, these bubbly bevvies come in multiple delicious flavors.

b2b.highrisebev.com

Image of High Rise Hemp and CBD Seltzers

MoodShine

Know Naturals introduces MoodShine, an eclectic, terpene-rich infusion of Delta 9, CBG, and beneficial mushrooms to bring you a liquid concoction that’s as fun as it is functional. Available in shots, mineral water, or in their full-strength liquor alternative.

knownaturals.com

MoodShine THC Product Image

Cycling Frog

Cycling Frog Beverages offers artisan cannabis extracts, including mints, seltzers, and iced teas. With options from 1mg THC + 5mg CBD to 50mg of each, they aim to normalize cannabis use and cater to varying preferences.

cyclingfrog.com

Image of Cycling Frog Seltzers

Discover more trending products at HQ’s Quest for the Best.

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