Hold the alcohol. Intoxicating new marijuana drink may be coming to Michigan
Imagine sitting at Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire and sipping a soapy mug of craft beer that won’t get you drunk, but put a smile on your face.
Michigan’s marijuana industry envisions a world where alcohol-free beers are actually intoxicating – and tasty. This is because they are said to contain THC, the highly inducing compound found in cannabis.
In this new world, alcohol, seltzer juices, sodas and cannabis would collide in bars, party shops, restaurants, concerts or ball games. And this reality is perhaps not too distant.
While infused beverages remain illegal under Michigan’s marijuana regulations – and the state legislature in 2018 banned all formulations of alcohol and marijuana – state licensees indicate that ‘they plan to make a change.
“At the agency level, we collect ideas all the time,” said Andrew Brisbo, director of the marijuana regulatory agency at MLive. a podcast from October 14 “Marketing is everything”. “And drinks in particular are of interest to a lot of processors in the industry. They want to move forward in that direction, so we’re looking at that.”
Other states with legal medical and recreational marijuana, including Colorado, California, and Oregon, have already plunged into marijuana-based drinks. Michigan businesses are waiting for their chance to introduce them to local customer gulls.
“We have a partnership with Short’s Brewing and we are already working with them on the manufacture of basic beverages,” said Joe Neller, vice president and chief government officer of Skymint Brands. “We haven’t brewed any yet, but they’ve made a ton of different drink types, from lemonade and iced teas to sparkling waters and iced coffees.
“There are all kinds of things that our team have tested and tried to decide, where the regulations allow, which we would like to infuse with THC.”
Skymint is a chain of retail marijuana stores owned by Skymint Brands, a major vertically integrated player in Michigan’s nearly one-year-old recreational marijuana market.
Neller doesn’t think it’s a question of if, but when the market opens in Michigan.
“Because it’s happened in every other state where recreational marijuana for adults is legal,” Neller said.
Neller said state regulators appeared most concerned about the safety and consistency of infused drinks.
“The (Marijuana Regulatory Agency) is working to develop an approach for safe brewed beverages to be permitted in the Michigan market, ”agency spokesperson David Harns said. “The rules require storage stability and we have been working with industry and the Scientific Advisory Working Group on a method to validate the storage stability of infused liquids.”
Neller said potency and consistency of dosage, to ensure that once one sip has as much THC as the next, is another concern.
“These drinks would obviously be infused with THC oil, for the most part, and the water and oil don’t always mix,” but “there are all kinds of technologies out there that ensure that it remains soluble in the water. ‘water,’ according to Neller.
He’s consumed potent THC drinks in the West that quickly cause poisoning, but anticipates more subtle, “low-dose” drinks emerging through the Short’s partnership.
“I think if people drink the drinks, they’ll do it in one sitting,” Neller said. “It won’t be any different from taking a single piece of gum or something like that… We don’t think people want to have a drink and then not function.
Under state law, businesses can obtain consumer licenses that allow on-site purchase and consumption of marijuana products, such as a cigar lounge. Currently, no such company exists in Michigan. When they do, they can also sell food under food licensing laws, Harns said, but not alcohol.
“Part of the reason we’re so excited about the beverage category is that we’re looking at consumer lounges, or even in the future being able to go to a bar or restaurant and be able to have a THC infused drink while your friends are having a beer or a cocktail, ”Neller said.
The Short’s Brewing-Skymint partnership has previously resulted in several THC-infused gummy candy flavors that mimic the taste of some of the brewery’s most popular beers, including Soft Parade and Huma Lupa Licious. They are marketed under the edible name “Short’s Brewing by Jolly”.
MLive hosts a virtual cannabis industry forum October 27 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in an effort to provide an overview for marijuana business owners and an avenue for networking.
The event at $ 15 per admission will be include Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Brisbo and industry insiders discuss the current and future prospects of the booming industry.
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