thc-infused beverages

The Incredible Rise of THC-Infused Beverages in 2024

by | Jan 9, 2024

thc-infused beverages

Written by Christine Tullio

As Co-Founder of Cannabis Tech, Christine passionately immerses herself in the cannabis industry. As an early adopter of this thriving market, she stays at the forefront of emerging technologies, bringing groundbreaking innovations to light and empowering her readers with valuable insights and inspiration.

You will likely notice the incredible rise of THC-infused beverages in 2024. Hemp naturally derived delta 9 THC is federally legal under the Farm Bill Act 2018 and is currently sold in all states except Idaho and Montana. These hemp sales are low dose 5mg or less in grocery stores, on-premise restaurants, and c stores. 

It is much more efficient and cost-effective to build a national-scale brand with hemp, since interstate commerce is federally legal, whereas cannabis is much more difficult and expensive because you have to duplicate everything in each state. Both cannabis and hemp beverages could build a marketplace together just like alcohol distribution, if only cannabis were federally legal.

The TTB’s regulation of alcohol distribution and taxation serves as an illustrative model. While it is federally legal, individual states may impose varying requirements. For instance, liquor stores may mandate the sale of higher-alcohol content spirits, while grocery stores can sell wine and beer. Similarly, the same model can be applied to the sale of hemp-unfused beverages in grocery stores and restaurants, with regulated licensed stores designated for higher-dose cannabis beverages. Although both products could be distributed by the same entity, different channels of access would exist for consumers based on dosage levels.

Launching a THC-Infused Beverages Line

When venturing into the THC-infused beverage industry, it’s crucial to be aware of the challenges associated with production and distribution. Depending on the country and state, entrepreneurs may face strict regulations, leading to high costs and time-consuming processes to bring products to market. Procurement and supply chain hurdles can also arise due to complex licensing and quality control procedures.

Marketing poses another obstacle for cannabis beverage companies. The stigma surrounding marijuana severely limits advertising options, making it challenging to reach the target audience and effectively promote products.

Furthermore, entering the cannabis beverage market means navigating an increasingly competitive landscape. Larger, well-established brands entering the market make it challenging for newer or smaller companies to establish themselves and compete.

However, amidst these challenges, the cannabis and hemp beverage industry presents vast opportunities. As attitudes towards marijuana evolve and legalization expands, companies that innovate in their production, marketing, and distribution strategies can position themselves for success in this dynamic market.

CannabisTech spoke with beverage industry expert, Douglas Fulton, author of Grow (A Blueprint to Successfully Launch Cannabis Beverage), to get advice on launching a hemp-infused beverage line.

Doug initiated the process of authoring this book after he departed from Tinley Beverage, Co. During our interview he stated,

“While writing the book, I started receiving an enormous amount of consulting calls for hemp beverages. I realized that even though I had worked with over 100 brands, they all had the same issues of not having a road map or knowing the process from concept, formulation, emulsion, and SOPs to take to a manufacturer.

Once the product was finished, then they didn’t know how to distribute it or create a brand strategy to distinguish themselves. The steps for cannabis or hemp were the same, so I wrote the book for the basic knowledge you need to even consider the journey. You will still need more assistance and that is where my advisory practice (The Brand Accelerator) was born and out of that the Emergent Beverage Group for a total approach.”

Get the Book Here: Grow1

Emergent Beverage provides an umbrella of integrated services to help take a brand from concept to manufacturing in multiple locations throughout the USA and has capabilities to distribute nationally via tier 1 DSD distributors, retail direct, and on-premise. The partners have over 150 years of beverage experience. They specialize in non-alcohol and hemp-derived THC-infused beverages.

In addition to providing consulting services through his book and advisory practice, Doug also offers training workshops through The Brand Accelerator These workshops cover a wide range of topics such as formulation, emulsion, manufacturing processes, distribution methods, and marketing strategies specifically tailored for the cannabis and hemp industry.

Standards and Best Practices

Doug also recognized the need for standards and best practices and is founding member and on the board of the Hemp Beverage Alliance. This alliance is focused on advancing the hemp beverage industry by promoting responsible and sustainable growth through the creation of regulated best manufacturing practices, universal label guidelines, standard lab testing, and tracking seed-to-shelf COAs. With the rapid expansion of the hemp market, it is crucial to establish standards and best practices to ensure product quality and safety for consumers.

hemp beverage alliance, thc-infused beverages

Where Can Consumers Find THC-infused Beverages?

Hemp THC-infused beverages are federally legal and available in all states except Idaho and Montana currently. They can be purchased online DTC, grocery, c stores, restaurants, bars, and events.

In Minnesota, consumers can find Hemp THC-infused beverages in most establishments where alcoholic beverages are sold. Minnesota consumption laws allow THC-infused beverages anywhere alcohol is served, and smoking cannabis is allowed anywhere cigarettes are allowed. In other states, cannabis licensed not federally legal hemp consumption lounges, also called cannabis cafes or bars, are designated spaces where individuals can legally enjoy cannabis beverages.

Social establishments can revolutionize THC-infused drinks for consumers and businesses alike. The normalization of THC will boost sales and market growth as more people look to consume cannabis in a communal environment rather than at home. However, the legality of public consumption lounges is still in its early stages in many states. Whereas federally legal hemp served at restaurants and bars is in full swing. MN, LA, TX, FL, NY. MA. ME, IL, TN, SC, and others are all most active in the hemp sector.

Some notable examples of state-licensed consumption (cannabis not hemp) lounges and cafe/bars examples include:

  • Irie – The newest and most tantalizing addition to Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Pairing cannabis with world-class cuisine and elegant dining, PleasureMed provides an elegant cannabis experience like no other.
  • Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe – This West Hollywood establishment offers a full menu of cannabis-infused dishes and drinks, including coffee, tea, and cocktails.
  • Barbary Coast Dispensary – This San Francisco lounge offers an extensive selection of cannabis products, including THC-infused beverages and edibles, for consumption on-site.
  • The Coffee Joint – As Denver’s first licensed cannabis social consumption establishment, this lounge serves up a variety of infused drinks, including coffee and tea.

Whether you’re new to cannabis or a seasoned consumer, these lounges offer a welcoming and informative experience that caters to everyone’s needs and preferences. So next time you’re looking for a place to consume THC-infused beverages, consider checking out a consumption lounge in your area – it may just become your new favorite spot.