One of the mainstays in cannabis consumption is smoking cannabis, whether joints, vapes, or dabs, cannabis companies maintain a focus on smoking. This is understandable, since smoking makes up the majority of cannabis consumption overall and a vast majority in the older Baby Boomer and Generation X demographics.
But with the Millennial and Generation Z groups accounting for more of the market over time, their desires for greener, cleaner, healthier ways to ingest cannabis will see smoking decline and newer methods, such as beverages, emerge.
With recreational cannabis beverages traditionally making up a fractional amount of the prohibitive market, their potential within a regulated market is tremendous. Smoking may be popular as a method, but in most jurisdictions, regular tobacco smoking is banned in public, so lighting up a joint in a restaurant is a no go, whereas washing your meal down with a cannabis beverage will be completely acceptable.
Cannabis products emphasize one of two specific cannabinoids – THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you high and brings on the stoner symptoms, or CBD which produces similarly relaxing sensations but without disturbing brain functions. Both can be extracted and used in beverages and those beverages have different social roles.
Cannabis companies with THC brews will be directly competing with alcohol, something already noted by Constellation Brands (makers of Corona and others) who have invested $4 billion into the cannabis industry, which, as of September 2018, is the largest single investment in the cannabis industry. CBD beverages will be more at home within the health and soft drink markets and are already receiving attention, such as soft drinks giant Coca Cola investigating the potential for functional wellness products.
While the days of cannabis beverages having their own aisle in a local supermarket are some way off, the driving demographic of cannabis consumption, Millennials, are clear on the benefits of recreational cannabis over alcohol.
In a survey of over 6,000 millennial cannabis users, Tylt found that over 85% of them believed that marijuana was better for you than alcohol, good for your health generally, and presented a better alternative for injured athletes than opioids or painkillers. All of which are examples where imbibing cannabis is best served by a beverage, there’s no point choosing cannabis over alcohol for health reasons if you’re going to smoke it. A professional sprinter suffering pain from a strain or sprain is better off with a CBD beverage than compromising his/her lung capacity with a prescribed joint.
The social mechanism for adoption of cannabis beverages already exists and the desire amongst the majority of consumers for healthy products exists. As investments and investigations by large beverage companies shows, beverages have a big future within the cannabis industry.