The push to legalize marijuana or cannabinoids across the US has created several byproducts, one of which is the growing demand for cannabis wine. As lawmakers wrestle with the idea of infusing cannabis into alcoholic products such as wine, beer, and spirits, the wine industry is now taking a hard look at the potential benefits and drawbacks from putting cannabis into their products.
The push to combine both alcohol and marijuana into a single product reached new heights in 2018 as companies such as Constellation Brands have invested nearly $4 billion into Canopy Growth, a producer of cannabis. The goal being to infuse marijuana into some of their alcohol products. This is most likely due to the growing demand from the public in states that have now legalized the recreational consumption of cannabis.
Interestingly enough, Constellation Brands is putting much of their business on the line as they have sold off some of their brands to focus more on marijuana and beer products. What makes this interesting is that studies have shown a decrease in alcohol consumption over the past several years. However, with more areas of the world now open to marijuana usage, the relationship between the two is now starting to merge.
Whether more people are giving up alcohol because marijuana is becoming legal is difficult to say as there are several different factors at play. What is true is that the unique appeal of having cannabinoids infusing alcohol in beer, wine, and spirits will no doubt draw considerable interest at least at first.
The Legal State of Cannabis-Infused Alcohol
Since the combination is so new, lawmakers around the country are only now grappling with it. Currently, the advice that is coming from lawyers is that companies trying to mix the two should wait for clearer guidelines from federal and state governments. Right now, agencies such as the TTB and DEA have yet to develop clear guidelines on how both products can be intermixed.
Historically, cannabis and alcohol have had little to do with each other. Partially in a legal sense, but also in the effect that it has on the body. Cannabinoids are stimulants while alcohol is a depressant. So, mixing the two was never seriously considered until recently. Plus, with legalization only now sweeping across the country, there are few laws and regulations that govern whether they can be mixed at all.
In addition, the two substances are so different that mixing them is quite difficult. It’s not just a matter of pouring cannabinoid or CBD oil into an alcoholic beverage. This is because water makes up most of the liquid found in wines and beers, so the result is that the oil remains on the surface. It takes considerable effort to actually mix the two.
One side effect has been the introduction of cannabis wine, beer, and other beverages that simply eliminate the alcohol component. However, the attempt to mix both alcohol and cannabinoids is now facing new laws from several states.
What is true is that the guidelines are changing as more cannabis wine, beer, and spirits are hitting the market along with the greater abundance of cannabinoids for infusing into all types of beverage products. Lawmakers in several states are setting about to clarify the rules and regulations. So far, the movement has been to limit the infusion of cannabis into alcoholic products if only because the effect has not been studied to any great degree.
Because the effects of both alcohol and THC, which is the active substance in cannabis, is so different the effect it has on the brain cannot be predicted. The effect of being both high and drunk is a combination that has little in the way of study, so lawmakers are naturally hesitant.
So far, only a Harvard Medical School study by Dr. Scott Lukas has been well-received. The conclusions from the study found that people who smoked marijuana and then consumed alcoholic beverages found that the absorption of the alcohol was significantly reduced. Conversely, when alcohol was consumed before the marijuana was smoked, the absorption of THC actually increased. However, no comprehensive study has been performed on cannabis-infused alcoholic drinks.
This means that many who want to experience the combination of alcohol and cannabinoids may have to mix the two on their own. California has passed AB2914, a law that prevents the addition of CBD oil to any cocktail or alcoholic beverage in public establishments. This was growing in popularity in recent years, but the new law has prohibited that any infusion into foods as well. The same is true in Michigan where a law recently passed has also prevented the mixture of alcohol and cannabis.
For the time being, many states want to keep alcohol on one side and cannabis on the other. Mixing of the two will probably not be legalized in those states until further studies have been performed to demonstrate that there is no increased danger to the public.
Non-Alcoholic, Cannabis-Infused Wines
In fact, there is a wine start-up called Saka Wines which has removed the alcohol entirely to create cannabis infused wine products to attract a larger market. Even more interesting is that the wine is aimed at a female demographic thanks not only to the female ownership of Saka Wines, but the belief that they can drive appeal to their product by replacing alcohol with cannabis.
Saka Wines is simply following a trend for the consumption of cannabis in beverages as opposed to being inhaled. There is a boutique aspect to cannabinoid infusion, offering the product in different types of beverages which has garnered more popularity in recent years. Alcohol-free wines along with beer seem to be the most popular because they are meant for relaxation purposes.
There is little doubt with the legalization of cannabinoids growing across the country that products such as cannabis wine will become more prominent. This relatively new product will undoubtably grow quickly as curiosity will drive interest. The question becomes whether it will survive the initial interest and grow into a vital part of the alcohol industry over time.