When we hear the word “Cannabis,” the first thing that usually comes to our mind is a plant with characteristic pointy leaves. The plant, also known as weed or marijuana, has been one of the “smoking” hot topics in the last few years. And now that the recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 15 states and many are in the process of legalizing it, a wide variety of Cannabis-related businesses are gaining traction in the country. Cannabis derivatives like Vapes and edibles have already entered the market, but the most highlighted segment of the Cannabis industry have been cannabis-Infused Beverages.

Cannabis-Infused Beverage Market

Cannabis-infused beverages, also known as Cannabis beverages, marijuana beverages, or simply weed beverages, are on the rise. Even though they are still far behind edibles when it comes to market share, they are also the most rapidly growing section of the legal Cannabis market.

The global Cannabis market stood at $367 million last year and is expected to grow up to $5.8 billion by 2024, with about $4 billion coming from the domestic market alone. The market is expected to grow to a whopping $8.5 billion by 2027. This projection can go significantly higher as more states start to legalize cannabis.

What Do You Need To Know About Cannabis-Infused Beverages

As an entrepreneur, if you are thinking about starting a cannabis-infused beverage business, there are a few things you need to know.

Challenges of Creating A Cannabis-Infused Beverage

Cannabis beverages used to be known (and many are still known) as “liquid edibles.” The primary reason behind this unflattering nomenclature is one of the most consistent challenges that cannabis beverage makers have been facing since day one. And it’s that cannabis and its constituents, i.e., cannabinoids, are fat-soluble, not water-soluble. 

Some of the first cannabis-infused non-alcoholic beers tasted like bad milk, with chunks of cannabis bits floating around in the beer. The insolubility problem also results in poor shelf-stability, and early cannabis beverage makers had to ask their consumers to “shake the liquid” before drinking. 

Now, thanks to common emulsifiers and Nanoemulsions, beverage makers have been able to make water compatible cannabinoids, and cannabis beverages that might be able to compete with alcohol on equal footing are finally within reach. 

Another challenge that cannabis beverage makers face is taste. Every manufacturer has its own way of addressing this problem.

Two Major Components of Cannabis-Infused Beverages

There are essentially two major cannabinoids: THC and CBD. While many cannabis beverages contain both, the two are essentially different. Both THC and CBD are psychoactive, but not in the same manner. THC is more “potent” since it binds quite strongly with receptors in your brain. It’s what causes you to get “high” when you smoke, eat, or drink cannabis.

CBD, on the other hand, is more of a relaxant. It has been known to help with seizures, depression, and anxiety. This is why most Cannabis-based medicine relies heavily on CBD.

THC-infused beverages usually inform about the quantity of THC content in the drink. Smaller amounts, like 1 to 2.5 mg, might not have any psychoactive effects. Higher doses can have strong psychoactive effects and some beneficial side effects like pain relief and euphoria. 

Most cannabis drinks have both CBD and THC, but in most cases, it’s the THC content that the drinker should be worried about. If you are working on a cannabis-infused beverage and you plan on introducing just one drink (not different variants, each with its own THC quantity), make sure you understand your target audience.

 Types of Cannabis-Infused Beverages

Cannabis-infused beverages are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and potencies. But before we dive into different types, it’s important to note that mixing cannabis or cannabinoids with alcohol is not permitted yet. So that’s one avenue you shouldn’t venture into.

Cannabis Tea:  Unlike most other cannabis beverages that are developed, marketed, and distributed by sizeable vendors, cannabis tea is a DIY beverage. It’s typically created by steeping cannabis plants (some parts) and drinking the resulting tea. But some brands (like Kikoko) have introduced caffeine-free cannabis tea bags. It might also be a good idea for a niche coffee-joint. This Cannabis-infused beverage has several medical benefits. It can be used to manage headaches, insomnia, and anxiety and improves your digestion system. 

Cannabis Beer: Cannabis beers are typically non-alcoholic, so the alcohol mixing prohibition doesn’t really apply. It’s perhaps the most commonly used (and commercially available) cannabis-infused beverage. Cannabis beer and cannabis-infused beers are two different drinks. The former is made by brewing cannabis leaves, while cannabis-infused beer is simply THC and CBD mixed with non-alcoholic beer. The effect, feel, and “high” of both beers would be different, though cannabis-infused beer would more easy to quantify. If the THC content is beyond a certain point, cannabis-infused will get you high. If it has more CBD and little to no THC, it will just help you relax and unwind.

Cannabis Soda: This is a cannabis-infused beverage that leans more towards “refreshing” than getting high. Most cannabis soda manufacturers add CBD to their drinks instead of THC, so you can enjoy the relaxing effects of cannabis without getting high or becoming impaired. They can be a good option for non-to-light drinkers or people who are experimenting for the first time with cannabis.

Enter The Cannabis-Infused Beverage Market With The Right Partner

The Cannabis-infused beverage industry is booming, and there is a lot of room to grow. If you are an aspiring (or existing) entrepreneur looking to swim in the lucrative cannabis beverage “waters,” it’s best to dive-in with a life-jacket, i.e., the right partner. And the right partners, in this case, would be beverage formulation and development experts. Working with such experts has a lot of benefits. You won’t have to waste time with a trial and error approach, and you can tap into the expertise and technical knowledge of your seasoned partners. While you focus on identifying your consumer pool and developing the right marketing strategy, your partners would be working beside you on creating the perfect product. Together, you might be able to carve a place in this rapidly growing market for your business.