Cannabis Beverages as a Path Towards Main Street
Guest post by J. Grillo, founder of Le Herbe
Aesthetics is important to every industry that desires social acceptance and cannabis is a prime example. At its core, aesthetics is a philosophical argument about the nature of beauty. It’s an idea central to the exploration of something being “good” or “bad” based on cultural perceptions. This is important to recognize because cannabis has poor aesthetics, but can recover from misinformation and propaganda by changing the way something looks or behaves.
Many of us can agree, or agree to disagree, that the way society views cannabis is a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed. Take for instance smoking and edibles. The aesthetics of smoking is an issue because most people relate this with cancer, big tobacco, and the poorly educated. The social perception of someone who smokes is negative, thus we have banned smoking in public and have labels on packaging to warn the consumer of possible health risks. Consequently, consumers may be able to buy cannabis flower and oil, but are ostracized from society because they cannot smoke it in public as well as additional scrutiny to negate the smell. The aesthetics of edibles is no different at this particular time because most people relate this with junk food, novelty shops, and marketing to children. The dominant landscape for edible products consist of cookies, brownies, gummy bears, and candy bars. The social perception of someone who eats junk food is negative, thus new regulations like childproof packaging, portion limitations, and in some cases an outright ban on edibles. Consequently, millennials are demanding a healthy alternative that is not readily available in the cannabis industry. It seems we are solving cannabis legalization, but adding other problems to the equation like obesity, diabetes, and the risk of carcinogens. The solution to bridge the gap between cannabis and social acceptance is cannabis beverages.
Ready-to-drink (RTD) cannabis beverages is an innovative idea that could disrupt the status quo. Firstly, recent breakthroughs in food science have addressed the incorporation of bioactive compounds in beverages. Bioactive compounds like cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids, as opposed to essential nutrients like carbohydrates and proteins, give cannabis a tremendous opportunity to revolutionize not only the cannabis industry, but the overall beverage industry. Secondly, properly formulated cannabis beverages (non-alcoholic) have the ability to increase bioavailability, unfortunately most cannabis edible companies do not address or simply do not comprehend this topic. For clarification purposes, when cannabis is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%. However, cannabis edibles are orally administered with bioavailability around 6% and smoking ranges from 2-56% with inconsistent values based on dependent variables (e.g., number, duration, & spacing of puffs).
Furthermore, amazing inventions have been created out of research and development (R&D) to increase the bioavailability of fluids to 50-75% and can consistently provide accurate dosing of THC (psychotropic) and CBD (non-psychotropic). Additionally, numerous beverage formulations can be developed from Cannabis Sativa L. because it contains an astounding 545 constituents like cannabinoids, that are not found in any other plant. RTD beverages can be formulated to relax, stimulate, energize or promote happiness, but most importantly can be label friendly (e.g., all-natural). Finally, the aesthetics of drinking a beverage can be advantageous, since current psychotropic beverages like alcohol have shown us a path towards main street. If your goal is to wine and dine in public, may I suggest drinking a cannabis beverage instead of being shunned or out of place with a candy bar and clouds of smoke. We just need to follow the breadcrumbs to create a functional cannabis beverage market that could be a replacement, alternative, or additive to several segments of the current beverage market. In one form or another, I foresee cannabis beverages being in every grocery and health food store, restaurant, bar, and coffee shop in the United States.
In summary, cannabis beverages can dramatically improve aesthetics of the cannabis industry if properly implemented. Long-term value can be created for investors and early adopters who develop cannabis beverage brands that have quantifiable benefits over traditional routes of consumption like smoking and edibles. Let’s be clear, a beverage line (non-alcoholic) is not suitable for most start-ups and you will need to be well funded in order to be successful. Entrepreneurs looking to create a local or national brand will need to consult with a beverage scientist and attain a process letter that addresses critical factors like pH, minimum headspace, water activity, etc. A few cannabis companies have already found out the hard way this is no easy task and incurred costly setbacks by not investing in R&D and/or opting for pseudoscience. You need actual scientific methods to back up your beverage claims because reputable companies need to prove to regulators and consumers that your products are healthy and safe to drink. If you want to learn more about cannabis beverages, I recommend you read “The Art and Science of Cannabis Beverages” exclusively on New Cannabis Ventures.
About the author:
J. Grillo has a passion for food, science, and cannabis. This outspoken entrepreneur has built several successful businesses, including Le Herbe (pronunciation: The Erb), an ultra premium cannabis beverage company.
Mr. Grillo help start Le Herbe in 2014, with a goal to provide healthy alternatives to the legal cannabis industry. Le Herbe is inspired by French cuisine and named their company to honor this region’s rich history of food quality and innovation. In addition, the company is private, family-owned and operated.
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