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  • Writer's pictureVik F.

Embracing the Future: Cannabis Beverages in Social Settings

The landscape of social drinking is evolving, and cannabis-infused beverages are leading the charge. As the DEA works to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act, the stigma surrounding cannabis is diminishing. This change opens new opportunities for cannabis beverages in both on and off-premise environments. Companies like Pamos Cannabis Cocktails & Spirits are making cannabis more accessible by introducing it in familiar forms like cocktails.



Cannabis-infused drinks are gaining popularity. Major liquor retailers like Total Wine & More and Spec’s are expanding their portfolios to include these innovative products. In 2023, sales of hemp-derived THC drinks grew by 143%, reaching $98.1 million. This growth is part of a broader movement toward alcohol alternatives, especially among younger consumers and new parents looking to avoid the negative health outcomes associated with traditional alcohol.


A study by NCSolutions found that one-in-three Americans aimed to drink less in 2023, with 69% reducing alcohol intake after trying THC drinks. This trend highlights a significant cultural shift as cannabis beverages become more mainstream.


The regulatory environment remains complex. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp with THC concentrations of no more than 0.3%, creating a pathway for hemp-derived THC products. However, inconsistent state and federal regulations pose challenges for the industry.


States are increasingly allowing the sale of cannabis beverages through traditional retail channels, but poorly drafted laws can create loopholes. For instance, Connecticut’s changes in serving size regulations inadvertently allowed broader sales of cannabis beverages.


Several pioneers have laid the groundwork for the current growth in cannabis beverages:


Wynk Seltzer + THC launched in 2020 and navigated regulatory challenges by creating a mobile canning and production line. The brand is expanding into states that allow cannabis products in 21+ retail stores, doubling their revenue year-over-year.


Indeed Brewing Company leveraged existing infrastructure to launch THC beverages, which now account for 20% of their revenue. Their products are available online and in select states.


Second Act Cannabis focuses on destigmatizing cannabis through social experiences, offering products like cannabis-infused hot sauce and olive oil, with plans to launch cannabis-infused maple water drinks.


Brands face logistical issues due to the regulatory gray area. Online sales are a significant distribution channel, but advertising on platforms like Meta and Google remains challenging. The Cannabis Beverage Association (CBA) is lobbying for clearer regulations and oversight by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).


Regulatory clarity, particularly around banking and federal legalization, could spur further investment in the industry. The 2024 Farm Bill update is a critical milestone for the sector.


Cannabis consumption is becoming socially acceptable across diverse demographics. From business titans to GOP soccer moms, cannabis is shedding its counter-culture image. The market is shifting toward a more laid-back approach to social drinking.


The rise of cannabis-infused drinks poses a challenge to traditional alcohol sales. However, some alcohol brands see an opportunity to diversify and meet changing consumer preferences. By integrating cannabis beverages into on and off-premise environments, these brands can tap into a growing market.


Bringing cannabis beverages into entertainment venues offers a new frontier for consumer engagement. Pamos is working to introduce cannabis beverages in these spaces, allowing consumers to enjoy these products responsibly during events. For example, the Kelce Jam music festival featured cannabis brands like Illicit Gardens, which educated and entertained attendees.


This approach normalizes cannabis consumption in familiar social settings and meets consumer demand for alternatives to alcohol. As Pamos CEO and founder David Mukpo notes, “Seeing it at venues allows people to experience a product they already have a demand for in a safe and familiar way without the unnecessary stigma of consuming discreetly.”


The momentum in the cannabis beverage market is attracting more entrepreneurs and expanding distribution channels. As consumer demand for alcohol alternatives grows, these beverages are becoming a staple in both retail and hospitality sectors. Ongoing efforts to educate policymakers and streamline regulations are crucial for the sustainable growth of the industry.


For clients in the beer, wine, and spirits industry, the rise of cannabis beverages offers both challenges and opportunities. Embracing this shift can help brands stay relevant and meet the evolving preferences of their consumers. By integrating cannabis beverages into their offerings, businesses can enhance their product portfolio and capitalize on this growing trend.


As the cannabis beverage market continues to expand, it’s clear that the future of social drinking is changing. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to these new trends, brands can ensure they remain competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. Cannabis beverages in social settings


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