Will THC beverages take a big bite out of consumer sales of alcohol, if cannabis is nationally legalized? Drinks like seltzers, soda, lemonade, and other popular drinks could use something less toxic than ethanol to “get a buzz”.
Part of the pro-cannabis movement has always been about a more natural way of getting high. We know that manufactured recreational drugs can be hazardous (or even fatal) when consumed periodically. And devastating to health and wellness when taken regularly.
No one wants to damage their health when they turn to a controlled substance to relax and help alleviate common stress and anxiety. Or painful chronic health symptoms. They simply want something affordable, easy to access, legal (where possible), and effective.
In some states, there are already cannabis-infused beverages on the market. Specifically California, Illinois, Oregon, and Colorado. A few other states are back and forth about the legality of consumer canned or bottled THC beverages sold by dispensaries.
Among the industries that could radically change if the MORE Act is ratified and federally legalizes cannabis? The beverage sector is set to skyrocket. And that is because consumers are ready for a less toxic way to get drunk. If we’re blunt, THC-infused wine, beers, ciders, and mixed, bottled drinks could be the ticket. And a healthier alternative.
How Long Have Humans Been Drinking Alcohol?
Spirits and alcohol have been part of our global culture since 7000 B.C. The first evidence of an alcoholic drink was in China. The oldest record and archeological proof of “drinking to excess” were between 3000 and 2000 B.C. A beverage that was called ‘Sura” made in India from distilled rice.
One passage in Buddhist texts reads: “Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.” Roughly translated, it means “I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drinks which cause heedlessness.” It is actually one of the five precepts of Buddhism.
But unlike Buddhist monks, modern-day average folks may not have developed the discipline or tools to manage upsetting thoughts and compounding stress. We can barely go thirty minutes without checking our phones, let alone practice the fine art of meditative silence. And so we learned how to buy and open a bottle and pour a little relaxation or “heedlessness” into our day.
How Much Beer Do Americans Consume Annually?
If you were to guess how much beer the average American drinks every year, you might not come close. Every year, Americans consume approximately 28.2 gallons of beer. That equates to roughly one six-pack per week. But some think that the estimate is a little low. How many people do you know that drink more than a six-pack over a weekend alone?
Beer consumption also varies by state. Some of the states that you may expect to have the highest beer consumption don’t even make the top ten list. Also, you may expect that beer consumption is higher in tropical climates. Nothing beats a cold beer on a hot day, right? But that is also not the case. Temperature isn’t statistically correlated when it comes to predicting beer consumption in the United States.
The top ten states in American that have the highest beer consumption per person (and per year) are:
Overall, the beer industry contributes $328.4 billion in economic output every year. Just under 2% of America’s total GDP comes from the beer industry. The production and retail distribution of beer (including microbreweries) impact 514 out of all 536 category sectors of the economy in the United States.
Beer is a big deal—both to consumers and the economy. The beer industry sustains an average of 2 million jobs in the United States and contributes over $1 billion IN wages and benefits for American workers. For more fun facts, check out “Beer, An American Tradition, An Economic Engine” infographic provided by BeerServesAmerica.org.
Do People Medicate Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression With Alcohol?
Certain lifestyle habits can develop when mental health conditions are not addressed. That is sometimes the case for people who have clinical anxiety or depression. The symptoms of day-to-day life can be overwhelming and stressful. And at the end of the day, some people need a little help unwinding and escaping that stress.
There are many healthy ways to detox from stress and anxiety. You can take a hot shower and a nap. Go for a walk with your dog, run, or head to the gym. Even having a telephone conversation with a loved one can help you reduce your stress level.
But for some people, one of the best and fastest ways to alter their emotional state is with alcohol. After one beer, you may feel a little relaxed. After two beers, you can find that your thought processes may slow down a little. Getting to sleep after a few drinks is also easier for some people because alcohol is a depressant. On many levels, it acts as a sedative.
Getting a bottle from the local liquor store or a case of beer at a convenience store is easy. And because alcohol is a natural depressant, it works fast to remove that heightened level of anxiety that some may struggle with.
But as far as elevating your mood, helping you feel happy or more energetic? Any euphoria felt after consuming alcohol is short-lived. And it can actually make you feel sad and even more depressed. A sativa infused THC beverage could fix that.
What Are the Downsides and Health Risks to Consuming Alcoholic Beverages?
Alcohol is a poison. No matter how you legitimize the fact that alcohol is a legal food product and fun to consume, it does harm to the body. it is no wonder that consumers are looking forward to THC beverages.
Every single time you drink. Have you ever noticed how so many people who smoke cannabis rarely (if ever) drink? It’s pretty uncommon to find someone who habitually smokes cannabis and drinks at the same time.
Increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects for infants
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
Cancer (breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, colon, and liver)
Increased symptoms of depression or anxiety
Can weaken immune system functioning
Can impair cognitive functions like memory and hand-eye coordination
The mellow of cannabis doesn’t need a side-car of Jagermeister. THC provides a faster and more relaxing wind down than having 1-2 drinks for most people. They don’t need or want both sedative effects. Particularly if the person has a preference for Indica strains.
Standards for Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking
Research has provided a number of drinks and standards to determine if you are drinking responsibly or have developed a problem with alcoholism or binge drinking. There are actually three categories to measure how much alcohol a person consumes daily. And whether those amounts are normal.
a) Excessive drinking is the broad category used by physicians to indicate that someone routinely or habitually consumes larger amounts of alcohol.
b) Binge drinking for women means four (4) or more drinks per day, or in a social setting. Men are considered binge drinkers if they have more than five drinks in one sitting.
c) Heavy drinking is the highest level of consumption. A woman is considered to be a ‘heavy drinker” if she consumes eight or more drinks per week. The number of qualifying drinks is almost double for men, at fifteen (15) per week.
One of the interesting facts about alcohol use is that often, heavy drinkers are actually not chemically dependent. Or addicted to alcohol. It is a lifestyle issue, and most often, it is a coping mechanism to deal with high levels of stress or mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People who consume alcohol every day may find that they catch viruses and bacterial infections more easily. The more you drink, the more impaired your immune system can become. And that can leave you more susceptible compared to the average non-drinker.
Some studies suggest that cannabinoids actually provide an anti-inflammatory boost to the immune system. Take that, alcohol! THC beverages could be a healthier choice.
Could THC Beverages Be a Healthier and Better Alternative to Alcohol?
There are not enough longitudinal or long-term studies about cannabis use right now to be 100% sure about the safety of weed. Researchers do know that it is not recommended for people under the age of twenty-one years. That regular use of cannabis under 21 (while the brain is still developing) can cause learning and memory problems.
However, studies and research into the health hazards of heavy drinking are known. And by comparison, cannabis may not be as harmful. Some clinical studies revealed that certain strains of cannabis might have cancer-fighting properties. Cannabis could be more psychoactive than alcohol for relaxation and pain relief, with fewer side effects.
Depending on the market and regional pricing, cannabis could be a lot more affordable too. If you are looking for some mild relaxation, you don’t need to get the top-shelf strains at your local recreational dispensary. In fact, some low to medium THC potency shake would do the trick and be equivalent to what most people use a “few beers after work” to accomplish.
And just because we love the planet, we should mention that using cannabis would be a lot more environmentally friendly.
Are Cannabis-Infused Beverages Legal Right Now?
Maybe? The Food and Drug Administration made a statement in 2020 that CBD is not legal in food products. And that includes beverages. Cannabis has CBD in it. So technically, according to the FDA, there should be no edible CBD products or THC-infused products out there.
The problem is that more than half of the states allow the sale of hemp products and CBD food and beverages. Those states include Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and others. However, there are states like Maryland that have supported the no CBD in food stance from the FDA. And complied by making those products illegal to manufacture, distribute, or retail.
If you are thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t the federal government legalize hemp (again) in 2018?” They sure did! It was called The Farm Act. After the legislation was passed, hemp cultivation, processing, production, and transportation became legal as long as the hemp was less than 0.30% THC.
If cannabis becomes federally legalized, a lot of this ambiguity will be gone. And more consumer retail and therapeutic edibles with clinical-grade CBD (or also infused with THC) should become available.
But right now, the FDA stance is fiercely against it. Not just food products for humans but also livestock and domestic pets. Manufacturers can’t create any “Scooby Snacks” for your dog either, legally. But those products are still out there if you look for them.
What Are Some of the Most Popular THC Infused Beverages in the United States?
Right now, skirting laws in “don’t ask don’t tell” states, there are some great cannabis-infused beverages that are being brewed, canned, and bottled. The companies are producing on a precariously thin legal line between what state legislation permits and what federal food and drug regulators tolerate.
Some of the THC-infused beverages already creating a “buzz” include sports drinks, mineral water, wines, and juice beverages. Green Entrepreneur recently published a list of the top ten best-selling cannabis-infused beverages. Brands ranged from cann-tonics with agave, fruit juices, water, and herbal extracts, to ‘high’ sodas and iced-tea lemonades. Just think of what kind of products and varieties would be available nationally after federal legalization?
Many feel that it is not a matter of “if” but a matter of ‘when.’ THC-infused beverages are expected to shake up the beverage market. Products that are intoxicating with THC infusions and non-intoxicating with potent cannabidiol as a wellness-boosting additive will be available.
Some bars have been adding non THC beverages already; providing a CBD shot to cocktails for years by customer request. At least until the FDA or local Department of Alcohol Beverage Control catches up with them. But swapping carcinogenic alcohol drinks for THC-infused beverages could be a big healthy step for American consumers in the future.