Weed-infused beverages are a super fast-growing segment of the cannabis market, which is why we’re excited to bring you a 4-part series all about drinking your weed. If you haven’t tried one yet, you probably will soon! We’ll start by sharing what makes these beverages special, with their fast-acting, low-dose formulation, crafted in a format that’s familiar to all. Over the course of the series, we’ll break down everything there is to know about weed drinks, and even share some tips on how to make them yourself — so stay tuned!
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.
Xander Shepherd (00:06):
Everybody comes into the world understanding biologically how to drink. We drink water to survive. And in that context, there’s a lot of just understood behavior there. But at the same time, let’s get a coffee to meet. Let’s get a drink after work. Let’s get a smoothie after we work out. If we could get cannabis into that world, then it would allow for people to have a different perspective on what it meant to consume cannabis. I am very much of the belief that beverage is one of the best ways to get people over the hurdle of the taboo around cannabis.
Ellen Scanlon (00:44):
Welcome to How To Do The Pot, a podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis. I’m Ellen Scanlon. You just heard from Xander Shepherd, the California based founder of the non-alcoholic aperitif and cannabis infused cocktail company Artet. We haven’t talked very much about cannabis drinks on the show yet, and today that is about to change. Cannabis infused drinks are popping up all over. They’ve been in dispensaries for a while, but now you can find them in liquor stores, convenience stores, even in bars in some States. But what are cannabis drinks? What do they taste like? How will you feel after drinking them and why are they catching on so quickly?
These are just some of the questions I’ll answer in How To Do The Pot series all about cannabis drinks. For me, cannabis drinks represent a changing tide in the industry. They’re providing a comfortable social alternative to alcohol, and they are literally changing the rules of cannabis distribution in the US. Whether you’re new to cannabis, coming back after a long break, or a regular at your neighborhood dispensary, I’ll share all you need to know about this new way to consume cannabis that’s becoming available all across the US.
In this series, we’ll also share why many believe cannabis drinks are the future, especially for women who may be looking for low dose, discrete and social ways to bring cannabis into your life. Weed beverages are a fairly new way of consuming cannabis. If you have more questions than usual, it’s because there’s a lot of new ground to cover. Let’s start with the basics. What is a weed drink? It’s any type of beverage that contains cannabinoids. There are drinks with only THC with a mix of CBD and THC, just CBD, other minor cannabinoids, lots of letters. Until recently, you could only find weed beverages that contain THC, the intoxicating part of the plant, at licensed dispensaries.
But the reason this is a four part series is because things have changed. Thanks to some legal wrangling in the state of Minnesota, there is basically a loophole for low dose cannabis beverages derived from the hemp plant. This is why you really can buy low dose THC infused drinks online and have them legally shipped to your house. I’ll talk more about distribution later, because as with so many things in cannabis, it is complicated. But here’s what you need to know. Cannabis drinks with THC can be legally shipped to nearly 40 states. You can even buy low dose drinks with less than five milligrams of THC in bars right now in Texas and Minnesota, and that number is growing quickly.
CBD drinks, which are non-intoxicating, can be legally purchased in all 50 States and you can find them in convenience stores, grocery stores, even coffee shops. Not all CBD is equal. Make sure to look for a certificate of analysis, which means the product has been tested by a third party to make sure it’s a clean and safe product. Now back to our initial questions, what exactly is a weed beverage? Here is Xander Shepherd to help explain.
Xander Shepherd (04:45):
The easiest way to describe a cannabis drink to a new cannabis consumer is quite plainly that it’s a drink. If you can drink tea and you can drink caffeine, you can drink weed. If you can drink a beer or have a martini, you can drink weed. If you don’t do either of those things, but you’re looking for something that might still take the edge off from the day, you can drink cannabis.
Ellen Scanlon (05:09):
Framing it that way might not be something you think about a lot, but it is obvious. I love to drink tea and my favorite is an herbal tea made from nettles. I drink this tea all day long and still get surprised when I see an actual nettle plant when I’m out on a hike. If you feel nervous about drinking weed, remember it’s also a plant. Cannabis beverages have come a long way since the early days of ingestibles. I think they’re going to have a huge impact on the way we all think about and consume cannabis. I’ll get into the science of these very modern drinks in a minute, but I want to share a story first. One of the first cannabis drinks I encountered was given to me at an industry conference a few years ago.
It looked like a regular glass bottle, kind of like a kombucha, and it contained 100 milligrams of THC. It was a very, very high dose of cannabis in a normal looking single serving size bottle. Just to give you some context, the low dose cannabis beverages with THC, the ones we’re going to talk about in this series, have a maximum of five milligrams of THC. You already know that drinking a whole beer is pretty standard when you crack open a can. But what about a whole THC drink? Will drinking it affect you the same way as eating an edible? I didn’t even want that 100 milligram drink in my house in case someone tried it accidentally.
And with very high dose products still available out there, what do people who just want to dabble in weed need to know? In this series, entrepreneurs at the forefront of this segment of the industry are going to help us answer all these questions. California-based Jamie Evans is the founder of Herbacée, a non-alcoholic cannabis infused rosé. Even though the effects of a cannabis drink may feel similar to eating an edible, there are some differences, notably how quickly you’ll feel the effects. Jamie explains more.
Jamie Evans (07:39):
Similar to cannabis infused edibles, cannabis infused drinks are ingested and metabolized, but they tend to have higher bioavailability rates than other types of products that fall into the oral consumption category due to the interaction with the sublingual gland in the mouth. This means you’ll have a faster onset time than edibles and feel effects more quickly due to the rate at which cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Ellen Scanlon (08:07):
To be clear, Jamie is saying these have a much faster onset time than edibles. This is a big deal. As I’ve talked about in our cooking with weed episodes, it can take practice and patience to find the right dose when you’re making homemade weed food. And that brings some uncertainty. Maybe you’ve tried a weed brownie or a cookie. It took forever to feel the effects. Then you ate another and got higher than you expected.
The effects of edibles can also last a long time, like six to eight hours. The legal market has helped to create consistent and standardized dosing, which allows you to largely predict how you’ll feel. But with edibles, the wait time can still be long, sometimes one to two hours. And for some people, that can still feel like a gamble. Not so much with weed drinks. Here is Jamie Evans again.
Jamie Evans (09:08):
If you’re consuming a commercially made cannabis beverage, there’s a good chance the drink has been infused using a nanoemulsion. As nanoemulsion technology continues to develop, bioavailability rates and onset times for infused drinks are improving due to the nanoscopic size of the particles that can be more readily absorbed by the body. This means you might be able to feel effects with these commercially made beverages within five to 10 minutes, but this really depends on your metabolism, body weight, and so on. This is much different than edibles, which can take up to an hour to feel.
Ellen Scanlon (09:45):
If the concept of nanoemulsion technology feels new to you, you’re not alone. Basically, smaller particles make it easier to absorb. In the past, cannabis was considered purely hydroponic, which meant if you mixed it in water, it would kind of turn into a chunky mush. It was hard to control and hard to dose. But recently that has all changed. Now, with nanoemulsion technology, science has allowed makers to break down and blend cannabinoids. This is what makes for quicker onset times, feeling the effects in five to 20 minutes or so. Now, when you drink a weed infused beverage, it’s more on par with the experience of drinking caffeine or alcohol.
When you are ready to try one, I recommend starting with a half a can. Take it slowly, hang out, wait a few minutes, talk with a friend, then decide based on how you feel to have the other half or save it for later. This rhythm is something we’re all used to, which is one of the reasons cannabis drinks are gaining popularity so quickly. I hope you understand more about what makes cannabis beverages different, but there are two big questions we haven’t covered yet. How long do the effects of a weed drink last and how high will you feel? Jamie Evans has some tips.
Jamie Evans (11:23):
This is a really common question and depends on your metabolism, body weight, what you ate that day, and so on. But for the most part, a cannabis beverage high is much shorter than a cannabis edible high, which can last for hours. As a rule of thumb, you might start noticing effects between 20 and 45 minutes after consuming a beverage and sometimes quicker if the beverage is made using a nanoemulsion.
Ellen Scanlon (11:49):
There is that term nanoemulsion again, which feels key to unlocking all of this. Quicker onset is such a great step forward for cannabis. It makes it easier to predict how you’ll feel and that gives you a lot of control over your experience. That ability to feel the effects faster is something Xander Shepard loves about cannabis beverages.
Xander Shepherd (12:13):
One of the great things that I always like to tell people, whether they are new to cannabis or a more seasoned consumer, is that the experience of drinking your cannabis is a little bit different than a traditional edible. The way your body metabolizes it is much quicker. That quickness or speed to feeling, if you will, makes for a really controllable and enjoyable experience for those who are looking to make sure that they maybe don’t over consume.
Ellen Scanlon (12:45):
One of my weed mottos is please do not take another gummy. But when you’re waiting on the effects of an edible, it can be frustrating and hard to remember. Xander knows the feeling.
Xander Shepherd (12:58):
You don’t have that experience of, I’ve had a gummy. I’m not feeling it. I wait 45 minutes or an hour. I take another one because I don’t think it’s working, and then have it all hit you at once later on where you have this delayed effect that is magnified beyond what you want.
Ellen Scanlon (13:12):
As Xander explains, the feeling of drinking cannabis doesn’t just come from the act of sipping it. There’s something more biological going on too.
Xander Shepherd (13:22):
The beauty of cannabis beverages is that it hits you within about 15 minutes because you have a lot of bioavailability within your mouth. As that liquid is in your mouth, it’s starting to get into your bloodstream rather than being digested through your liver the way that traditional edibles are. And then similarly, because of that nano particle size of how small we’re getting the cannabis to then bind with water, it’s also being processed in your body much more quickly.
What I like to think of as the benefit of that is that you as a consumer can have an Artet cocktail and feel it the same way you might feel a glass of wine or a martini and have that immediate feedback loop of deciding, do I want to throttle up and have another drink? Do I maybe want to pour a double this time? Or do I want to sit a drink out and be comfortable with where I’ve gotten to from my preferred high experience? That is one of the things that I have always found to be a really lovely benefit of the way cannabis makes you feel when consuming it through the form of a beverage.
Ellen Scanlon (14:24):
One of the reasons that we are about to celebrate the 200th episode of this podcast is that cannabis is a fascinating, complicated topic with a secret history that has lived in the shadows of prohibition for decades. Did you know that half of the adults in the US have tried cannabis, and yet the language around weed is confusing? Dispensaries can feel intimidating. And for first time consumers, there really isn’t a roadmap. As a culture, we are still figuring out how to be social with weed now that weed is legal in so many States. For many years, smoking weed has been the most common way to consume.
Smoking at a party or a wedding or any social event might not be welcome or allowed. I love weed, but I’ve really never liked the flow of stepping outside to smoke a joint with friends, and then heading back into the party feeling self-conscious that everyone knew what I was up to. Cannabis beverages can help you avoid the stigma of smoking simply by doing what everybody else is, drinking something, whether it’s intoxicating or not. Are you excited for a great summer and looking to have fun with less alcohol? Now, in 39 States, you can have Happi, THC infused, good mood inducing sparkling seltzer, shipped right to your house.
Happi is a women-run company making beverages that loosen you up without the hangover. If you’re curious about a lower alcohol lifestyle, but miss mixing up cocktails, Happi’s Spa Water mocktail recipe might be just what you’re looking for. I recommend trying it with Happi’s Lemon Elderflower drink, which has a yummy citrus and floral flavor. This flavor has two and a half milligrams of THC, which is a low dose beverage. Here’s the easy recipe for Happi’s Spa Water, five cucumber slices, two lemon wedges, a couple of basil leaves, and ice for serving. First, you add the ice and cucumber slices to a tall glass.
Squeeze the lemon wedges into the glass and drop them in. Next, pour in your can of Happi’s Lemon Elderflower and garnish with the basil leaves. Really easy, right? After 15 to 20 minutes of sipping, you’ll feel a little buzz like a glass of wine. For better relaxation tonight, go to happihourdrink.com and order a four pack of Happi’s Lemon Elderflower, a THC infused seltzer. Happi is offering 20% off for How To Do The Pot listeners. That’s happihourdrink.com and use the code “do the pot” for 20% off. I’ll link to it in the show notes. Remember, it’s Happi with an I at the end.
Lisa Hurwitz, the co-founder of cannabis beverage brand Happi, shares how some of the barriers to entry around cannabis were an inspiration to create a better product for newer consumers.
Lisa Hurwitz (18:03):
I had gotten my medical card, and it was a process in Illinois. It was not like it is now. I finally was so excited. I’m holding this card in my hand and I go into this dispensary in Logan Square, which is super hipster in Chicago. I walk in and I say to the budtender, I’m like, “Look, I really need something to sleep. That’s why I’m here. That’s the whole impetus,” and he gave me an RSO. For those of you listening that don’t know what an RSO, Rick Simpson Oil, it’s really strong. If it’s your first time buying legal weed, that’s probably not what you should recommend.
But anyway, I had no idea. It was in a syringe, which totally freaked me out, but it was to eat. He said, “Take it on a little piece of a cracker.” I put it in my fridge, and the next night I put it on a little piece of a cracker. I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I had to cancel work. I couldn’t go into the office. Ironically, it made me more hungry to be in the industry because I was like, if this is who’s out there, the budtenders recommending RSOs to women like me, there’s got to be a better way.
Ellen Scanlon (19:07):
If you’ve listened to any of our episodes that share stories about the first time buying legal weed, it’s not always smooth. Even as cannabis becomes more accessible than ever, it can be hard to feel confident that you know what to buy, how much to consume, and what will work best for you. With cannabis drinks, there is a lot of science behind the product. The dosing and infusion process can be super precise. Xander explains how they infuse Artet, his cannabis beverage.
Xander Shepherd (19:42):
Artet becomes infused through a very simple process. We use an emulsion to create perfectly dosed and infused beverage. Unlike a traditional edible where you have the benefit of taking cannabis oil and having it bind with another lipid or fat in the context of maybe cooking oil or butter to get even distribution through a brownie or a gummy, we don’t have that same luxury with a beverage because oil and water doesn’t want to bind.
But when you create a beverage and you create one that has either more than one serving, in the case of our large format of aperitif, or even in the context of one of our single serve cans, where you still want to make sure that first drop and that last drop are perfectly dosed and infused, this is something that you have to solve for.
The way we’re able to do that is by creating an emulsion that uses ingredients like MCT oil to basically take the cannabis oil at a very, very, very nano level particle size and make it basically bindable with water. So that when we say a serving size for one of our cans, which is eight ounces, is five milligrams THC and five milligram CBD, we can say that with absolute confidence without requiring a consumer to shake the bottle before pouring and really just focus on having a delicious, elegant, and predictable drinking experience from first drop to last. The same way one might come to expect pouring a serving of whiskey or having a beer.
Ellen Scanlon (21:09):
If you don’t drink alcohol, want to slow down your drinking, or are just looking for a new way to relax and enjoy a meal, put a cannabis beverage on your shopping list. Xander agrees.
Xander Shepherd (21:22):
Aperitifs historically have been these beautiful French and Italian decors. Things that you maybe have heard of, campari or aperol, that are lower dose or mid dose have these beautiful botanical profiles from roots and bitters and all kinds of deeply richly complex flavor notes that create these wonderful beverages that can be enjoyed on the rocks or the base of the mixed drink. We wanted to create something very similar in the context of Artet. But instead of relying on alcohol, use a different enhancer, if you will. The aperitif was the perfect framework for this.
Aperitifs traditionally are meant to wash away the drudgery of the day, open your mind to more epicurean delight, more social moments, put everything that was in your workday behind you and really center you and bring you into a more social space. We couldn’t think of anything that more perfectly encapsulated that notion of aperitif culture. It opens your mind. It opens your mood. It stimulates your appetite as cannabis. We like to even joke that we think actually cannabis is the perfect aperitif because it can do all those things. In some sense, it’s an elegant recontextualization of the munchies.
It makes you a little bit more social. It takes the edge off your day. It makes you feel a little bit more present in the moment to want to enjoy whatever it is you’re eating, whether it’s a very simple snack or a more complex meal.
Ellen Scanlon (22:46):
If you’re a food lover, why not embrace the relationship between food and cannabis? I share lots more about cooking and eating weed in episode 167. I’ll link to it in the show notes. Xander shares why he loves the pairing.
Xander Shepherd (23:01):
The beauty of drinking cannabis alongside a meal is that you’re gradually getting to your preferred place of consumption and feeling, whether that’s one drink or a few drinks, sessionable and enjoying the flavors and things that you’re eating along the way, much like you would when pairing wine with food or having a cocktail in a meal. At the end of the day, it’s not exactly rocket science. It’s just if you make a good drink, if you make something that people want to enjoy and you pair with food that also happens to get you high, you’re going to enjoy that moment and enjoy that experience.
Ellen Scanlon (23:33):
Right. At the end of the day, it’s not rocket science, but there is a science to it.
Xander Shepherd (23:40):
Having that moment of I have now had a drink, or I’m actively drinking while eating, and because of the way that the cannabis makes you feel through the format of the beverage, I’m unwinding or loosening up as I’m also enjoying this food is a really great interconnected experience that you don’t always get from a traditional edible because you have to either time that well in advance of your meal or you just miss the meal altogether and then you’re stoned later on, or you might smoke more than you mean to prior to your meal.
You have to wait a little bit to of get to that resting place where you’re now able to more effectively be in the moment and process what you’re eating when you’re drawing and savory and tasting things.
Ellen Scanlon (24:30):
I understand if we drink still might seem intimidating, especially if mastering your dose of edibles or finding a strain that you love felt or still feels like a big learning curve. But these drinks don’t need to be intimidating. Cannabis beverages are changing the landscape because they are fast acting, low dose and come in a format familiar to everyone. They might even help you build a more delicious relationship with food, friends, and yourself. Keep an eye out.
I think you’ll start seeing them around a lot and soon. Stay tuned for the next episode in this series when we’ll talk about being sober curious and how to be social with cannabis drinks. Thank you for listening to How To Do The Pot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. Thank you to writer Joanna Sokoloski and producers Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and stay tuned for more of How To Do The Pot.
So you must be legal, too. Age 21+ invited to continue.