Cannabis Beverages Are Actually Good NowPhoto courtesy of hi Seltzer Drink Features cannabis beverage
It wasn’t that long ago that homemade brownies reeking of weed were the gold standard of cannabis edibles. But as cannabis has been legalized across much of the U.S. (you can currently buy recreational marijuana in 24 states and medical marijuana in 38 states, although it’s still federally illegal), the edible industry has exploded. These days, you can get high from just about any kind of consumable, ranging from gummies to chocolate bars to cheese puffs.
One type of cannabis edible I see popping up more and more these days is the THC beverage. There are now just about as many ways to drink cannabis as there are to smoke it—you can choose from seltzers, mocktails and even coffee if you need a caffeine boost with your high. Just a few years ago, these THC drinks were… less than delicious. They often had an oily mouthfeel to them, and for the most part, they tasted like taking a sip of liquidized air from a college boy’s dorm room.
Not anymore, though. Nanoemulsion technology has allowed cannabis beverage producers to blend THC with water-based ingredients to create tastier, more enjoyable THC beverages that won’t leave an oily film on your tongue. And as someone who wants to indulge in a fun, alcohol-free beverage from time to time, it really feels like we’ve reached a new era of the cannabis beverage.
Some brands are cashing in on the spiked seltzer hype to create bubbly, generally low-calorie drinks that could easily replace a White Claw at a social gathering. These products generally range from 2 to 5 mg of THC per can, which is a great place to start for those who may not be experienced cannabis users. Products like WYNK Seltzer, which comes in three flavors (Black Cherry Fizz, Lime Twist and Juicy Mango) actually taste significantly better than many of the most popular alcoholic seltzers you’ll find on store shelves these days. Cann offers creative flavors that represent a step up from the more basic options on the market; you can choose from flavors like Blood Orange Cardamom and Grapefruit Rosemary. And the milder hi Seltzer, which utilizes milder Delta-8, offers a range of simple flavors that would appeal to most consumers.
Other brands, like the newly launched Cali Sober, seem to be embracing the mocktail movement with more intensely flavored drinks that seem more appropriate to drink out of a coupe glass than a can. The Berry Ginger Fizz is one of their tamer recipes, but their Ranch Water and Paloma Spritz wouldn’t seem completely out of place on a cocktail bar menu.
Even flavored THC drink concentrates are offering a more delicious drinking experience. Las Vegas dispensary The Source has created High Heads Puff Punch, a concentrate that can be added to everything from water to tea. These types of cannabis drink enhancers were once some of the worst-tasting THC products out there, but this brand’s Mango Madness beverage enhancer is something I would willingly drink even if it didn’t contain THC.
It’s a step in the right direction for people looking for an alternative to alcohol but who don’t want to go completely sober. Depending on your tolerance level, these drinks are all relatively mild but still give the drinker a light buzz that can offer an alternative to the more health-taxing beverage options out there.
Cannabis beverages aren’t without controversy, though. According to an article published in the New York Times in 2022, researchers still just don’t know much about the effects of these drinks—they just haven’t been on the market for that long. And they’re not a failsafe beverage for those who may struggle with addiction; cannabis can, in fact, be addictive, so these drinks may not be appropriate for those who are attempting to stay truly sober. Plus, if your tolerance is on the lower side, it is possible to drink too much and find yourself in an uncomfortable headspace.
Personally, I don’t plan on cutting alcohol out of my life anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy that there are fun alternatives for the nights I want a social drink but want to avoid alcohol for whatever reason. And although the THC-infused drink options currently on the market may not yet be as exciting as a particularly interesting bottle of wine or craft beer (and may never be), they’re now something I’d actually want to drink for flavor, not just effect.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.