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CSO of Trait Biosciences Ronan Levy wholeheartedly agrees with this prediction. He said to Cannabis Business Times that companies need to “provide cannabis consumption in a way that our entire society is used to, which is sitting down with a bottle or a glass and drinking and socializing.”
Thus far, cannabis-infused drinks haven’t gained much traction, as challenges arise when trying to mix oil into a water-based beverage. However, several companies have come up with some groundbreaking solutions for creating water-soluble cannabinoids that might revolutionize the adult beverage industry.
The Current Cannabis Beverage Problem
Cannabis-infused beverages already exist, but the problem is the cannabinoids within these drinks are fat soluble — and, obviously, oil and water do not mix. This issue doesn’t make for a great beverage experience.
The biggest problem is that the fat-soluble cannabinoids within the drinks have a late onset of their effects — the same with cannabis edibles. The body metabolizes these molecules much lower in the digestive system and thus results in a delayed effect. Unfortunately, this delay often leads to people ingesting too much of a substance because they aren’t feeling the effects fast enough — which can be unpleasant and even downright dangerous.
Other problems include the fact that, if a beverage contains a mix of oil and water, the consumer must shake it heavily, eliminating the possibility of creating bubbly drinks. Moreover, the taste of cannabis oil is not very pleasant, and a lot of the cannabis beverages currently on the market have trouble masking the cannabis flavor.
For cannabis beverages to take off and gain adoption, they will need to be as pleasant as more popular alcoholic beverages, like a cold frothy beer or a bubbly and light gin and tonic. Additionally, the effects must take place quickly the way alcohol does, which is precisely why some companies are working on water-soluble cannabinoids.
Different Solutions Exist
Companies that have developed or are in the process of developing water-soluble cannabinoids solutions include Sproutly Canada, Trait Biosciences, Vitality Biopharma, Lexaria Biosciences, Tilray, Chemesis International, and Emerald Health Therapeutics.
Sproutly’s unique process has been gaining the most traction. The company uses an Aqueous Phytorecovery Process which recovers water-soluble phytochemicals and then releases the oils without disrupting molecules. The process allows the extraction of the parts of cannabis that can dissolve in water and separate them from the oils. This solution, which Dr. Arup Sen has been working on for more than a decade, has been dubbed Infuz2O.
Trait Biosciences takes a different approach using a process called glycosylation, which attaches a sugar molecule to the cannabinoid to make it water-soluble. This patent-pending process has been named Trait Distilled.
At the end of 2018, Lexaria Bioscience launched ChrgD+, a water-soluble hemp supplement powder that can be used to infuse hemp oil into any beverage easily.
The Benefits of Water-Soluble Cannabinoids
Water-soluble cannabinoids provide a wealth of benefits that significantly improve the properties of cannabis-infused beverages.
When a cannabis drink is truly water-soluble, it dissolves evenly throughout the beverage, so dosing is always precise.
Most importantly, the effects are felt in only 5 minutes and end in under 90 minutes — much like smoking cannabis or like drinking an alcoholic beverage. Water-soluble molecules can be absorbed quickly through the mouth, stomach, and small intestine, while oils cannot. Solving the long lag effect of traditional ingested cannabis products makes these beverages a lot more enjoyable and a lot safer to consume.
Additionally, water-solubility eliminates the earthy, oily taste of fat-soluble cannabis beverages, and there’s no need to shake up the drink, opening up a whole new world of carbonated possibilities.
How Water-Soluble Cannabinoids Will Change the Adult Beverage Industry
As the general public becomes more health-conscious than in previous decades, the alcohol industry has been declining steadily for years. Alternatively, the demand for low and non-alcoholic drinks have skyrocketed — rising a whopping 30% in 2017 alone.
These statistics prove that cannabis-infused beverages could be an attractive replacement for all of these declining alcohol sales. Some alcohol companies are worried about these prospects cutting into their profits, while others are joining the bandwagon of offering their customers cannabis-infused drinks to boost their sales.
By 2022, experts estimate that cannabis-infused beverages could become a $600 million market in the US. As a result, big industry players like Corona, Coors, and even Coca-Cola are actively exploring cannabis beverage possibilities.
Sproutly has already developed 60 water-soluble cannabinoids beverages, ranging from sangrias to sparkling waters. They have partnered with Moosehead, Canada’s largest brewery, to provide these products to the Canadian market first. Pending regulatory allowances, Sproutly wishes to expand their cannabis beverages to Europe, Jamaica, and the US in the future.
As legalized cannabis continues to gain adoption around the world, cannabis beverages are sure to disrupt the alcohol industry in a big way; presenting consumers with a healthier and safer alternative. Soon the masses will be able to sip on cannabis cocktails with their pals — and with no hangover in the morning!