The hot days are getting longer, and you’re getting thirsty!
A cannabis-infused beverage that mimics the predictable, fast-acting effects of alcohol is the Holy Grail of the cannabis industry. Multinational liquor brands are positioning themselves for a long-predicted federally legal U.S. market.
As of now, 18 U.S. states—plus Washington, D.C., Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands—have legalized adult-use (or recreational) cannabis within their borders as of May 2022. Several bills making their way through Congress to legalize the plant are in various stages. Meanwhile, scientific work continues before cannabis beverages will give you that quick buzz you get while sipping a strong alcoholic beverage at a bar.
But we’re getting closer. Here are some of the best cannabis beverages out there. And while we couldn’t exactly hit every legal state—primarily because they’re still working out the details of their adult-use rules (or are just plain weird)—we touch on all of them and even squeeze in a few medical-only states.
Colorado and Michigan
Denver-based Ripple is known for its fast-acting formulas in both gummies and dissolvables. In fact, a 2021 study by academics at Colorado State University found that its products “hit” users much faster—as quickly as twice as fast—than other market-leading consumables. Ripple’s QuickDissolves products come discreetly in powder form, which you can then add to a soda, beer, bottle of water, or glass of wine. Quick Dissolves are as close to flavorless as cannabis products come. Ripple can be found at cannabis retail outlets in Michigan and Colorado.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Maine, Missouri, and Puerto Rico
Another Denver-based company with a much bigger footprint is Keef. Keef is a cannabis concentrates manufacturer that also makes canned, spiked soda. Whether you’re looking for traditional cola and root beer flavors or something more exotic like Blackberry Coconut and Purple Passion, Keef’s got you covered—and in a wide variety of locales. You can purchase Keef legally in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Maine, Missouri, and Puerto Rico (medical only). If you’re heading up north, you’ll find Keef in Ontario and Saskatchewan, Canada.
Illinois, Nevada, Rhode Island, and New Jersey
Several emerging cannabis markets are the first outside of California to access Cann, a “social tonic” manufactured by Chicago-based cannabis giant Green Thumb Industries. The beverage, made of not-from-concentrate fruit juice and organic agave nectar, is dosed at just 2 milligrams of THC and CBD. It was already a big hit in The Golden State. Illinois, Nevada, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, which just opened up its adult-use cannabis market in April, will enjoy the beverage in its three flavors—Lemon Lavender, Grapefruit Rosemary, and Blood Orange Cardamom—following a recently-announced expansion.
If you’re in Massachusetts and feel left out, have no worries: Good Feels is here for you. The minority-owned, Medway-based company just dropped four THC-infused seltzers and two “beverage enhancers” in flavors like Black Cherry, Raspberry Apple, Lemon Lime, and even “Flavorless.” Each 12-ounce bottle is infused with 3 milligrams of THC and 2 milligrams of CBD for a mellow buzz that’s meant to be fast-acting. Good Feels’ packaging is also sustainable—sold in “infinitely recyclable glass bottles within a carbon-neutral facility using 100% renewable energy,” according to the company.
Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arkansas
Wync THC and Seltzer, which calls itself “the most widely distributed cannabis seltzer beverage in the United States,” just launched in New Mexico—one of the newest legal markets. With flavors like Juicy Mango, Lime Twist, and Black Cherry Fizz, these low-dose beverages that contain 2.5 milligrams each of THC and CBD are also available in rec states Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Wync’s seltzer can also is available in medical-only states Ohio and Arkansas.
You missed my state!
Oregon, Montana, Alaska, Vermont, New York, Virginia, Connecticut, Washington, D.C.
Some states are too new, too small, or just plain weird. Here’s the breakdown of the remaining legal adult-use states.
Very few multistate cannabis beverage brands appear to be available in Oregon. Among the most popular cannabis-infused beverages is a cannabis concentrate made using frozen plants that naturally maintain many of the cannabinoids (CBD, for example) added (separately) to the previously listed beverages. Magic Number beverages come in Lime, Berry, Passion Fruit, and Tonic flavors.
One of Washington state’s most popular brands, Major, is “designed to deliver high doses of THC in a small 6.7 fluid-ounce juice beverage,” according to the company. Its motto is, “Major packs a major punch.” It comes in Orange Mango, Pink Lemonade, Blue Raspberry, Passion Fruit, and Grape flavors.
Montana’s top beverage’s motto is “Skip the seltzer. Grab a Sinful.” Sinful Beverages’ flavors include Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Huckleberry Lemonade, and Sweet Mango. Watch out, though: Each bottle contains 85 milligrams of THC.
Alaska’s Fire Eater is like an energy drink, but with 5 milligrams of THC. It comes in Orange, Pineapple, and Strawberry flavors.
In Vermont, cannabis is recreationally legal, but there’s nowhere to buy it. This is expected to change this year.
New York has yet to fully spell out or implement its recreational cannabis rules, leading to mass confusion and frustration.
Virginia is a brand-new legal state (and the first in the South), but a regulated market won’t launch until 2024.
Connecticut, meanwhile, is still doling out licenses for infused products.
Washington, D.C., meanwhile, allows possession of cannabis, but not the sale of it.
Wherever you live, have fun and be safe as you enjoy the cocktail legal for you to consume.