Lately, more and more people are cutting alcohol out of their lives, reaching for one of the hundreds of nonalcoholic beverages available in supermarkets nationwide, making their own mocktails or settling for plain old water in exchange for a life without hangovers. Not drinking is an emerging trend among Gen Z, as BBC reported that among US adults, a Gallup poll showed that those aged 35 to 54 are most likely to drink alcohol (70%), compared to Gen Zers (60%) and Boomers (52%). For nondrinkers looking for alternative ways to get a buzz, there’s yet another avenue: cannabis-infused beverages.
Infused beverages are a growing market within the cannabis industry. High Times reports that cannabis beverages only represent about one percent of overall legal cannabis sales in the U.S., yet more mainstream food and beverage companies are slowly entering the space, such as the manufacturers of Budweiser, Modelo Especial and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The appeal of these beverages lies in their faster metabolization process than other edibles, meaning users can feel the effects faster. Still, with a more limited selection of infused beverages available at cannabis dispensaries, consumers are more likely to reach for weed gummies, chocolate bars and other ingestibles.
Some cannabis users infuse beverages themselves, using either store-bought or homemade tinctures and syrups to add an extra something to their drinks. Anna Li, who uses the handle @cannabinista on TikTok and @cannabinista.co on Instagram, has built an online community by sharing her cannabis-infused recipes. Using her toolbox of special infusion and decarboxylation devices, Li can turn any recipe into an infused one. Craving a whiskey sour that doesn’t contain any alcohol or popsicles that are refreshing and relaxation-inducing at the same time? Li’s website has tons of recipes and ways to add weed into any food or drink.
The community guidelines of most social media apps prohibit content showing the use of illegal drugs. Unfortunately, despite weed’s legality in many states, the plant has been lumped into a grouping of “illegal drugs,” whose presence is forbidden on such social media feeds. This makes finding cannabis-related content, such as Li’s recipes, increasingly difficult on TikTok since creators must use pseudonyms when referring to weed or they’ll risk the removal of their content. Regardless of these limitations, the cannabis consumables market is still growing and diminishing the stigma surrounding weed, which might result in the future loosening of these social media guidelines.
Those who feel inspired by Li’s content and the growing cannabis consumables market might feel inclined to whip up their own weed tincture or powder that can be incorporated into a wide range of recipes. However, the process of making a tincture is time intensive and involves decarboxylating the flower in the oven, soaking the flower in food-grade alcohol and storing the mixture in a dark, dry place for a few weeks before filtering it for eventual consumption. Additionally, safely dosing such tinctures yourself can be difficult.
If you’re weary of attempting to make your own tincture in fear of ingesting more cannabis than anticipated, opt for one of the canned, infused beverages available for purchase at legal cannabis dispensaries. Several of these drinks, such as a 10 milligram can of Keef Brands’s Bubba Kush Root Beer, can be consumed straight out of the can and even accompanied by a meal. Other infused drinks with milder flavors and lower dosages, such as Cann’s Cannabis-Infused Social Tonic, which contains 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD per serving, can be combined with a few other ingredients to create a more sophisticated infused drink.
Consuming legal cannabis comes with a degree of privilege. While Californians and those in a handful of other states can enjoy access to legal, recreational cannabis, we cannot forget about the tens of thousands of people incarcerated for cannabis possession — many of who still remain incarcerated today. The Last Prisoner Project is a nonprofit organization that works toward the freedom of Americans incarcerated for cannabis charges through education, policy reform, legal assistance and resources for formerly incarcerated constituents. The Last Prisoner Project invites people to take action toward cannabis policy reform by writing letters to currently incarcerated cannabis prisoners, calling on state governors to pardon those convicted of federal marijuana possession and donating to their organization to support their prisoner release programs and reentry programs.
To continue consuming cannabis consciously, the UCSB and Isla Vista community can shop atBIPOC-owned cannabis brands and storefronts. Based on an American Civil Liberties Union report of marijuana arrest data from 2010-18, the New York Times reports that while studies show white and Black people use marijuana at similar rates, a Black person is more than three times as likely to be arrested for possession than a white person. The war on drugs and the disproportionate number of people of color arrested for possession has led to barriers of entry into the majority white-owned cannabis industry. Some states have launched social equity efforts to bridge this gap and give everyone the opportunity to receive assistance in landing a job in the cannabis industry or starting their own cannabis business.
To ensure equal opportunity in the cannabis space, it is imperative that cannabis business owners support each other. The infused beverage company Cann has partnered with organizations that work to promote inclusion within the cannabis space such as Cannaclusive, “a collective dedicated to facilitating fair representation of minorities in cannabis.” Cannaclusive created a database of 1,032 BIPOC-owned cannabis companies to support in the U.S. in an effort to uplift minorities who are underrepresented and overlooked in the industry. This database makes it easy for consumers to directly support BIPOC-owned businesses in their home state.
Here’s a recipe for a relaxing cannabis-infused cocktail that is guaranteed to be hangover-free:
Yield: 1 drink
Time: 5 minutes
- 1 6-ounce can of Cann Lemon Lavender Cannabis-Infused Social Tonic (available for purchase at most California dispensaries such as Goleta’s Cal Green Medical or online)
- 1 kiwi
- 2 mint sprigs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- Remove the skin from the kiwi, chop roughly and add into a blender. Add the mint sprigs and water, blending the mixture for 30 seconds.
- Using a strainer, strain the kiwi mixture into a bowl. Blend and strain the mixture again.
- Fill a short glass with ice, preferably large cubes.
- Pour 2 ounces of the kiwi mixture into the glass.
- Pour in the Cann Social Tonic and 1 ounce of lemon juice into the glass, leaving 1 inch of room at the top.
- Optional: Garnish with a mint sprig or kiwi slice. Sip and enjoy the booze-less buzz!
When you’re sipping on your infused cocktail that is soon to replace your alcohol of choice, remember that while the plant is fun to consume, there’s still work to be done regarding criminal justice reform, cannabis legalization and inclusivity. Yet, your actions and advocacy can play a role in working to free those incarcerated for cannabis charges, reducing the stigma surrounding weed and expanding the cannabis industry to include everyone. Consume responsibly and have a delightful 4/20!
A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the April 20, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.