A Proper Guide To Cannabis Beverages
Guide by Brianna Wheeler
Sep 25, 2019 · 6 min read

If you're not sure how to navigate the brand new world of weedy beverages, start here.

Sure, there are a ton of ways to consume weed these days, but beverages are arguably the most universally appealing of the bunch. Why? They’re low-profile and easy to consume, opening up the market to folks who appreciate the effects of cannabis more than they appreciate the herb’s earthy flavor profile. And while eating and drinking cannabis are by no means modern concepts, extraction tech has changed the way the body absorbs and activates imbibed cannabinoids. Let me explain.

Cannabis oil has been around for all of recorded history. Mentions of it being used in food and drink date back to ancient Egypt, China, and India, and many products on dispensary shelves still utilize oil-based, old-school infusion methods. Other products utilize water-soluble cannabis oil. This is cannabis oil that's been emulsified and diluted several hundred times in a sugar/acid solution to achieve water solubility. This process changes the bioavailability of the cannabis extract—AKA how your body is able to absorb cannabinoids. As you swallow a beverage infused with water-soluble THC, you absorb some of that THC via the mucous membranes in your mouth, resulting in a quick onset of effects. You then absorb the rest of the cannabinoids through your gastrointestinal system, resulting in a buzz similar to that of a traditional edible.

Now that we’ve got the technology straight, let’s look at the different categories of weedy beverages and figure out which might suit your lifestyle.

Low-Dose, CBD Sodas for Cannabis Newbies

For those who are brand new to the cannabis game, Sprig’s CBD-infused soft drinks are the way to go. They won't get you high and Sprig uses an extraction process meticulous enough to remove the mere suggestion of grassy plant matter. Sprig’s product line includes four carbonated sodas containing 20mg of CBD each. Lisi Willner, VP of Marketing at Sprig says, "When people drink Sprig, they tell us that it helps them with their anxiety, their pain, inflammatory issues, and their sleep. There have been numerous fly-by-night CBD beverage companies that have entered the space, but the most important thing I want people to understand about Sprig is the legitimacy behind the brand."

If you're willing to experiment with a little THC in your soda, you can't go wrong with Cann. Each of their low-dose sparkling waters contains 2mg of THC and 4mg of CBD for a high that's uplifting without being overwhelming. Cann's Lemon Lavender and Grapefruit Rosemary social tonics are Proper fan favorites. As one rater who tested the lemon lavender social tonic put it, "I floated above the day in the most pleasant way possible, from the beach, out to lunch, and then to sleep." As opposed to eating an edible and feeling the effects peak all at once, the beauty with these is you can sip on them at a party and let the effects gradually put you at ease. 

Comparable products available outside of California would include Mirth's Legal: Lemon Ginger soda (OR, WA, AZ) and Utopia's Lime Sparkling Water (WA).

Tea for Wellness Buffs

Herbal teas and cannabis go together like peanut butter and jelly, and Bay-Area drink company Kikoko is a top-shelf example of this. Their medicated tea concept is straightforward: cannabis teas that appeal to both the weed and tea connoisseur. Their formulations re-conceive the entourage effect to include smartly remixed terpene profiles with thoughtful tableaus of organic botanicals, herbs, flowers, and cannabinoids that target literal and figurative thirsts.

To me, Kikoko’s products feel firmly geared towards middle-aged mothers looking to ditch pharmaceuticals but not necessarily dive into dab rigs. This makes sense because Kikoko specifically set out to develop products for women who rely on pharmaceuticals to sleep, manage pain, or regulate mood and anxiety. The bioavailability provided by their proprietary, water-soluble emulsification process, the tea blends, and the mature, restrained THC percentage of Kikoko’s products walk the line between relief and recreation with elegant feminine energy. The brand feels powerful enough to not only upend weed-mom stigmas but maybe overtake the wine-mom camp altogether.

Today, there are Kikoko teas for sleep, pain relief, and mood enhancement. They even have a tea that promotes sensuality. And while Kikoko teas are formulated to address specific health-related issues, they also serve as an unobtrusive recreational entry point for people new to cannabis or with a low tolerance for THC.

Comparable products available outside of California would include Stillwater's Mellow Mint and Gentle Green teas (CO).

Coffee for Life Hackers

On the other end of the brewed beverage spectrum are Somatik’s cannabis-infused cold brew coffees. For Somatik founder Chris Schroeder, THC-infused coffee seemed like a no-brainer. Though the upper/downer mix may feel a bit counterintuitive at first, I’m compelled to agree with him. Coffee and weed can co-exist, and when asked about the entourage effect of cannabis and coffee, Chris replied, “It’s hard to describe the magic but there is truly a unique effect from combining cannabis and coffee. Both THC and caffeine work with the same receptors in your brain, so you’re getting a synergistic effect that’s more than the sum of its parts.”

Somatik’s Cold Brew is first and foremost a damn good 4oz of coffee. The nose is as richly complex as your local wine bar’s most bougie cabernet, complemented by tart berry notes and a rich chocolate afterburn. The flavor profile of this cold brew is more than adequately refined enough for cannabis enthusiasts with a congruent enthusiasm for coffee. And just as Schroeder promised, the coffee’s spiky caffeine is expertly tempered by cannabinoids, bringing a breathless harmony to the product that makes it an exceptional way to kickstart the day. Experienced cannabis consumers with high tolerances could comfortably drink one of Somatik’s Cold Brew coffees (10mg THC) before work for a boost of calm energy. Those with lower tolerances would be best off pairing the brand’s low-dose CBD Coffee (5mg THC, 5mg CBD) with active weekend mornings.

Final Tips

Despite the inclusivity of beverages, newbies and varsity players alike should always exercise caution when playing with new consumption methods. Even at low doses, overconsumption with these beverages is possible, so follow manufacturer instructions and use in moderation for best results. Our recommendation? Start with a dose of 5mg of THC or less and wait at least an hour before sipping more to best gauge what that amount does for you. 

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