When it comes to edible cannabis products, weed-infused beverages haven't really caught on.
In January, AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world, quietly ended its partnership with Canada cannabis producer Tilray. The move came just three years after the two companies joined forces, each investing $50 million dollars in a play for Canada's cannabis beverage market.
It seems clear that the demand just isn't there. Weed drinks made up only two percent of total Canadian cannabis sales in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to analytics firm Hifyre and American financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
"I think in the short term, people just aren't turning to beverages first when it comes to edibles," Derek Prentice, president of The Proper Cannabis Co., a Toronto-based cannabis beverage company, told trade publication MJBizDaily in a recent interview. "[Consumers'] go-to is gummies, chocolate and that sort of thing, probably for portability. Throwing a can of something in your pocket isn't as easy, and it doesn't stay cold."
But I had a different theory: Those consumers are just doing beer wrong. To assess the situation for myself, I decided I should take a crack at some weed beers. And as an experienced professional in the field of drinking, I knew that I should probably shotgun them — for science.
And so, at Heya Wellness in St. Ann, I got a four-pack of Mohi Orange Daydream drinks, for just over $25. Brewed in a partnership between Swade Cannabis and O'Fallon Brewery, the non-alcoholic, THC-infused beer launched in August. Each of the cans I purchased had 4.23 milligrams of THC that has been nano-emulsified, a process that makes their effects come on more quickly than you might expect from your average edible.
I had my first Mohi at 7:15 on a Friday night during a small gathering with friends, using a pocket knife to puncture the side of the can. Then, I popped the top and drank the whole thing in about four seconds. Taste-wise, the concoction was similar to a hoppy Fresca, with the mango and orange flavors prominent, followed by a strong weed aftertaste. Within the first fifteen minutes I began feeling a slight puffiness under my eyes, but few other effects.
Mohi number two went down the hatch at 7:30, and hit my stomach like a bomb. That's the risk that comes with shotgunning, I suppose. Soon I began feeling a lightness in my head, but still no strong effects.
I settled into fifteen-minute intervals between beverages, figuring the regimented approach would make for better science. That was probably a mistake; I should have taken more time, to give my guts a break. But this train was already on the tracks, so I pressed forth with Mohi number three at 7:45. "I am suffering through this," I wrote in my notes. "I do not believe these were designed to be consumed this way." I started feeling a distinct spaciness in my brain as the THC started to really kick in.
When the time came for Mohi number four my stomach was in distress, but I powered through because I'm a professional. Its twelve ounces joined the bubbling cauldron between my chest and waist at 8:00.
After number four, things took a turn for the better. An hour into this bad idea, I started feeling the effects of the THC more heavily, to a point where watching videos of the deathgrind band Exhumed on mute seemed extremely funny. It was a nice calm body high, with my limbs feeling a bit heavy and my brain easily distracted. I was also quite relaxed, and maybe even a bit sedated.
By 8:30 my stomach had calmed down and the high really took hold. I did note that I was particularly quiet — these beers might be better suited to a relaxing evening alone than a party-type atmosphere. But maybe shotgunning them had something to do with that. By 10:00 I was fully stoned, and I spent some minutes looking for a lost item that was in my hand.
All told, my experience with Mohi's weed beers was a pleasant one, except for the distress put on my guts. It's a reasonably refreshing drink that gets you where you need to be.
I'm not sure of a solution for the lack of consumers for cannabis-infused beverages. But shotgunning is definitely not it.
Thomas K. Chimchards is RFT’s resident cannabis correspondent and alias haver. Email him tips at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @TOMMYCHIMS.