It is 2019 and Big Alcohol wants to win a legal pot, but only on its own terms. One by one, the largest beer companies in the world have announced their intention to make drinkable marijuana products. Brace yourself for an attack of alcohol-free weed beers and weed salters and weed fruit thrusts.
There is only one problem: nobody really wants or likes cannabis drinks. In legal marijuana markets used by adults, infused drinks make up only 2 to 3 percent of total sales. But the alcohol industry really and truly believes it can convince us that we want to consume weed in the same way that we consume alcohol, sip by sip. Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter said that drinks can soon make up 20 to 30 percent of cannabis sales. That's right: he thinks he can increase the demand for marijuana drinks by a factor of 10.
Last year, Molson Coors took a majority stake in a joint venture with a recognized pot producer in Canada, called HEXO. Anheuser-Busch InBev spent $ 50 million on a similar joint venture with the British company Tilray. Lagunitas, owned by Heineken, is already selling a bubble flavor with hop flavor in marijuana pharmacies in California, in collaboration with Sonoma & # 39; s CannaCraft. And Constellation Brands, including Corona and Modelo, threw nearly $ 4 billion – the largest investment in the history of weed – at a 38 percent stake in the largest Canadian marijuana producer, Canopy Growth.
Complete openness: I have always found that drinks are the worst kind of edible marijuana. Even if you find one that does not taste like bong water, the scattered ease of sipping almost guarantees that you have too much, and the delayed intensity that so many people are wary of edible weed means it can hit you all right away, two hours later on. Unless of course it is a product with a low dose and you may have too little. I smelled a night over a joint for the last ten years and I need 25-30 milligrams of THC to get high. Most pot drinks are aimed at serious, all-day deponer, with 100 milligrams of THC per bottle, or at entry level light weights, with 2.5 milligrams of THC per bottle. I love weed, but I don't want to stop myself after a third of an iced tea, and I don't want to drink 10 iced tea. Marijuana tolerance varies much more than alcohol tolerance, and that makes it much harder to make sharable, standardized products.
As it exists, the entire cannabis drinks category is a mess. Even if you can get the dosage and taste and the start time correctly, being high does not feel like being drunk. Why should we try to force marijuana to mimic the experience of alcohol? Do the makers of Blue Moon and Stella Artois hope that bars and ball games will offer both a weed beer and regular beer in ten years?
I tried to get past the sunny investor forecasts and see everything for myself: the mega companies in Canada burn shareholder cash; the smart entrepreneurs in California who are still getting used to following laws; and the thriving illegal market that offers cheap quality for cheap undermines the entire legalization effort from Toronto to Detroit to Los Angeles. For the purpose of doing some crucial investigative weed-drink journalism, I tasted nasty brews, spent 12 hours in pot-party hopping at Coachella, ruined a friend's romantic rendezvous by making her stoned, ventured to a remote factory town in Canada, and got myself super high from marijuana wine on an evening that ended with $ 62 snack shopping.
I discovered that the reality is that Big Beer is looking for pot drinks because its own industry has been slowly and steadily declining for two decades. Firstly, cocktails and wine became more accessible, thereby removing the market share of beer. Artisan breweries then led a revolution against domestic lager beer boys such as Budweiser and Miller Lite. As Americans become more and more concerned about the negative health consequences of drinking and legalized cannabis that is ready to take a huge bite out of the consumption cake for recreational intoxication, giant beer companies are trying to maintain their lucrative dominance over how we popping up and ending.
"If you are a beverage company and you know how to make liquid and put it in a can and let it taste good, whether it is an electrolyte beer or a THC beer, it is a natural extension of your expertise," says Brandy Rand, chief operations officer for North and South America at IWSR Drinks Market Analytics, a market research agency for the alcohol industry. Rand told me she thinks the expansion to marijuana-soaked drinks makes perfect sense for alcohol companies. "This is a natural development in looking at people who are worried about wellness, who may want to have the opportunity and experience of something that looks, tastes and feels like an alcohol product, but has no calories, no hangover."
But of course Rand feels that too. She works for a company that sells information and projections to alcohol conglomerates who are looking for a solution to the challenges of legal cannabis. Analysts on the weed side are not so optimistic about pot drinks. "I think it will be a novelty that wears off pretty quickly," says Matt Karnes, founder of the financial cannabis company GreenWave Advisors. “How many different ways do we have to get high? It's kind of stupid. "
This is so wild about the legalization of marijuana. Everything is still in the air, and things are moving fast. We cannot predict that all legal sectors of industry will disrupt or change fundamentally. Sleeping aids? Painkillers? Tourism? Data from the first states that allow recreational use shows that more people are willing to give the drug a try if it is legal. The tempting and possibly one-off opportunity to entice and convert more people into cannabis users has companies rushing to innovate neophyte-friendly offers – hence the eight-digit investment in building a better weed drink. "Beverages must be given a meaningful opportunity if you can repair the product," said Vivien Azer, chief cannabis analyst at investment bank Cowen.
But as with other vice industries such as casinos or tobacco, the majority of weed sales remain focused on the heaviest users, creating a mystery for anyone who wants to sell marijuana drinks: develop a high-dose product for the market that you have, or develop a low-dose product for the market you want? Much of the money aimed at the speculative, regular market goes to Canada, where marijuana-soaked drinks and other edible products become available in December, giving corporate beer companies the chance to experiment in the Great White North before debuting on a global stage .
I admit that I am part of the existing cannabis market, so I do not fully understand what could motivate people who are now considering trying cannabis for the first time or returning to it after a few years. Maybe people will think THC is cleaner, more attractive and healthier than evaporating oil or smoking a pot. Tubes can be dirty. Bongs can be intimidating. So with a mind as open as possible, I left this spring to see what is and what is coming, trying to determine whether pot drinks could be the future of intoxication.
Perhaps cannabis drinks really become the next kombucha and not the next new coke. I am willing to believe that a whole range of companies can find out what we want before we do it. I am willing to try a weed drink that tastes and feels better than the mess I have had after six years as a reporter for the marijuana industry and a decade in Los Angeles. I am also aware of the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars have previously been wasted on stupid ideas.
The oldest operational brand for marijuana drinks in the country is currently also the best-selling. It is called the Cannabis Quencher, a line of juices and lemonades in flavors such as hibiscus and strawberry that have been sold by VCC Brands in California for the past eight years. I have always hated Cannabis Quenchers, which taste too sweet and usually contain no less than 100 mg THC. But I decided that, in order to understand where pot drinks are going, I need to spend some time with someone who understands where they have been.
When I call VCC Brands founder Kenny Morrison, this intention changes into a plan to drive his Subaru into the desert and travel through Southern California's largest annual drug scene party scene: Coachella. After all, if there is one place on earth that can predict which intoxicants will be cool in the coming years, then it will be Indio mid-April when the youth of the world come together to pose and smooth out.
At the age of 44, Morrison embodies an entire Hollywood idea of a white man in Los Angeles: surfer, actor, weed mush. (As a child he played in it The story without end continued.) It is brown all year round, with a shadow of five hours and a self-assured, disarming charm. While we are driving, he often changes lane without signaling.
From 2008 to 2018, Morrison operated his commercial cannabis kitchen between 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. because it was illegal and he assumed that food inspectors did not work after hours. Over the years he has put a lot into everything, from bagel bites to biscotti, caramel to coconut water. When he first started looking at beverages in 2010, he hired a food scientist who made him swear to keep his involvement a secret.
"We thought," Where do we start? Icetea? Lemonade? "Morrison recalls. "He said," Here's the difference: if lemonade gets bad, it'll give someone a stomach ache. "Maybe they will vomit. But if you do an iced tea wrong, it will kill your customer & # 39 ;, and I thought: & # 39; Let's start with lemonade! & # 39;
Although marijuana is not technically allowed on the Coachella site, the surrounding desert is a hotspot for industrial cannabis production. This year there were abundant shindigs sponsored by weed. On a single Friday we managed to see the full range of Golden State pot culture: the Johnny latelies with tons of money, the former criminals who scale up to scale up, and the people who work at the edges of what is legal .
Morrison belongs to the second group. After earning $ 5-15 million from an investor this spring, he now wants to compete with Molson Coors and InBev.
"Fuck them and their insights," says Morrison. "Some insights can be purchased, but many insights come with experience."
We drive down the highway in a suburb of paving, dust and fast food. Our first stop is a marijuana dispenser where a new low-dose weed beer called Two Roots focuses on festival-goers with THC-free samples from a bicycle-driven kegerator. Two Roots has solved the biggest problem with existing pot drinks: the fact that it takes so long to get high.
"Imagine having to wait an hour and a half to feel the impact of Scotch," says Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, who works with Two Roots in Nevada. Apparently, marijuana foods feel more intense than smoking, because your liver metabolizes the THC differently, transforming it into a stronger, more psychedelic form. The secret of Two Roots is water-soluble THC, which skips your liver and produces a cannabis spray that strikes quickly and lightly and does not linger in your system.
Outside the desert pot store, the founder of Two Roots, Kevin Love (not the NBA player, only a man from New Jersey with vocal fry), offers a paper cup of lager to a woman with pink hair.
"I'm actually good," she says.
"Wow, really?" He answers.
Love started the parent company of Two Roots after stints at JPMorgan and the Royal Bank of Canada. He raised $ 19 million from friends and family.
Three surly-looking motorcyclists come closer. "This is not our typical demo," Love says softly, but the boys each take an example. "That's not bad," someone says. When they turn around, Love says: "We are lucky that we have not become rough!" He is equally disapproving when a black man with golden front teeth comes up, the last inch of a blunt hanging out of his mouth.
Just as I begin to wonder who both want to try Two Roots and are found worthy of love, his ideal client arrives: a white middle-aged woman with red glasses. Her husband is brewing. "I can't even imagine beer with THC," she says. "It sounds like the perfect drink!"
While we drive away, he makes fun of Morrison. He is also aware of water-soluble THC. "It's not that hard," he says, explaining that the bigger hurdle is finding the right emulsifier. Indeed, at our next event, organized by an old friend of Morrison, bartenders combine cocktail mixers in bottles with alcohol or emulsified CBD. It is a party for a vapenpenbedrijf that started out as illegal and is now trying to raise money. Nestled in a hillside, the country house they rented for the weekend offers a sweeping view of the valley, and although not many people have yet shown, all elements of a Coachella party startup kit are here: chips, guac, DJ, infinity pool, white furniture and at least one golden inflatable swan. Women in bikini tops lounge on straw-woven pillows, smoking joints.
"This party is all about brand awareness," says Olivia Wagner, the event planner, who is stunning and blond and has attached a kind of light-catching crystal to her tooth. "We have talent tomorrow at 2 am, because that's when the investors come," she says, mentioning a few rappers, an actress, and an A-lister that I would be shocked to see here. "Many of the vice boys are coming out," she continues. Okay, I believe that.
As we drive away, Morrison seems disoriented.
& # 39; If they & # 39; lifestyle brand & # 39; says, do you want to hit her in the face, & # 39; he says. & # 39; But she crushed it. Creating beautiful photography, all the shit you should have. It just feels satirical because of the big change we've seen in recent years. "
And it's true. Since 2017, Morrison has gone from a crook who once seized a million dollars from his bank accounts to a poster boy for legalization. But when we show up at our last event, one LA Weekly party in a hotel with a Moroccan theme, it becomes clear that despite the flood of new laws and new money and new pot stores that resemble Apple Stores, the free-for-all energy of an earlier era lives on.
After some drama about whether we are on the list, we roll down a path with stone tiles, past magenta Bougainvillea and a woman in camo pants, a red bra and golden hoops staring at her phone on an inflatable bird of paradise printed chair. Since the end of 2017 when a mysterious, marijuana-related group was purchased LA Weekly and fired almost the entire staff, the local rag has left journalism in favor of pablum and weed advertisements. (Disclosure: I wrote for a completely different one LA Weekly 2011-2014.) For Coachella, the publication organized a raw pool party and a cannabis competition. Eventually we find the person in charge: weed writer Jimi Devine, who wears a tie-dye shirt and has frizzy hair to his chest. Devine is quite high, this weekend she posted to the rest of the jury to try every participant of pot, edible, oil, preroll, drink and vapes.
At Devine's insistence, I agreed to help assess a few categories, including drinks, so he brings me into his hotel room where marijuana products cover almost every surface.
"We're not even going to give you the Marley Natural because it's so bad," says Devine. Certainly, I think, that sounds goodr.
Part of the button is in plastic bags, which means that it is not packaged according to national legislation. Less than a fifth of the marijuana industry in California is legal. In Los Angeles, only 186 of the estimated 1,700 stores in the city are licensed.
When we get back in the car, Morrison remembers that he had to explain it to the car LA Weekly representative that the only legal way to get Cannabis Quenchers to the jury members was in an approved pharmacy.
With one hand on the wheel, Morrison looks through his competition: a beer, a lemonade and a green pomegranate tea. He holds the lemonade up to the light and floats over the yellow double lines.
"See how it sticks at the top?" He says. “It must be emulsified. This guy is a rookie. & # 39;
Later, after I poured this super powerful lemonade into a glass to try the smallest sip, I write on the right shape that it looks like milk mixed with urine.
A few weeks after immersing myself in Coachella's thirsty cannabis sponsored riders, I head to the opposite end of the legal weed universe with millions of dollars on R&D but not much glamor: rural Canada. I am here to view the most advanced development of marijuana drinks that money can buy from Canopy Growth Corporation. The 70-acre headquarters is about an hour outside of Ottawa in the city of Smiths Falls, where there are no real waterfalls.
On paper, Canopy is the most valuable legal weed company in the world, with contracts in every Canadian province and a medical presence in Australia, Germany, Brazil and more. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It recently announced a $ 3.4 billion plan to buy the marijuana company that has former John Boehner House President on the board. And it uses the $ 3.8 billion from the alcohol company Constellation Brands to expand at top speed.
"There are trees on the lawn now," says Carly Picket, one of the employees who shows me around. "There was not a week ago."
Before this building was a legal pot colossus with more than 3,000 employees, it was a factory and tourist destination of Hershey. In that spirit, Canopy often takes investors and media on a cheerful, Potemkin-like & # 39; behind the scenes & # 39; tour, past busy-looking scientists in safety glasses and on walkways that overlook production space. We adapt in white coats and blue slippers and peep into the cloning room, the mother plant room, the flowering rooms, the vegetative rooms. We are talking about temperature control, humidity control, light control, automated trimmers, human trimmers, this technology, that technology, whatever. It is weed. Canopy grows it on an industrial scale, but nowadays also many people. The company's yield per plant is less than half what other growers can produce, especially in California.
The people of Canopy seem a little nervous that I am not impressed and that I have seen several large-scale growth like this before. At a certain point it emerges that the really enormous growth of the company is entirely in another province, in greenhouses, which are much more cost-efficient. Later, during lunch, I ask business communication manager Caitlin O & Hara or Canopy to investigate the lesser-known compounds in the cannabis plant. Many potting companies are particularly interested in the fatigue-inducing cannabinol (CBN) as a potential alternative to Ambien, but O & Hara says she's never heard of it. She decides to ask me questions: specifically, which companies should Canopy buy in California?
In recent years, California and Canada have become the two gravity poles of the global pot economy, looking at each other from across the border with a certain amount of distrust and resentment. While California has the customers and the expertise, Canada has the support of a large government and therefore the big money. After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave priority to legalization in 2015, Canadian financial services received a huge advantage in the cannabis space. So although the entire Canadian marijuana market is worth less than the Los Angeles market, all serious weed investors go to Canada or via Canada. In the five years since the Canadian Stock Exchange began to allow marijuana companies, the combined market capitalization has risen from $ 5 billion to more than $ 30 billion – a Green Rush frenzy.
"It is very difficult to determine whether these companies are reasonably appreciated," explains Mitch Baruchowitz, managing partner of the cannabis investment company Merida. Until last year, there were only about 30 companies licensed to sell and grow pot in Canada, so when companies like Altria (formerly Philip Morris) and Constellation started looking for legal partners, there were not many choices. The situation is often described as a bubble and I wonder if Canopy can live up to the hype.
Because edibles are not yet legal in Canada, Canopy will not let me try the pot drinks, which must be ready within 15-20 minutes and probably contain an iced tea, a kombucha, a lemonade and sparkling water tastes like pine needles.
"The goal is to create a category," said VP of communication Jordan Sinclair. “Before Red Bull there was nothing better. This is what this looks like. It meets a new need. "
Nothing about Canopy's new weed drinks, however, is fairly definitive. There are more rules, so the company puts everything together in a provisional way – all without knowing what consumers will really like.
"You make decisions, expensive decisions, without the full details, and so there are many pivots," says Mark Zekulin, one of the company's two CEOs.
Nevertheless, production is progressing. Last November, shortly after Canopy announced the billions-dollar investment from Constellation, the company began work on a bottling plant in the street of the grow rooms and visitor center. Along the way, O & # 39; Hara takes me to the company's regional distribution center, where Josh Shaver, the logistics manager, tells me: "We consider this the largest cannabis warehouse in the world!"
"But … is it?" I ask. "The biggest?"
They have no idea.
Finally we reach the bottling plant, which is still under construction. We put on steel toe boots, orange hazard vests, safety glasses and a helmet before we can get to the building. It is a huge structure, around 120,000 square feet. Outside, Mack cement mixers peep past John Deere bulldozers. We dive into a recess where a door could go and see that the inside is filled with small rocks. O & # 39; Hara has never been to this building and she seems excited to see it.
"So is this the office?" She asks. That's it, but there are no walls or floors or anything that looks like an office. "Wow, this is incredible," she continues, while we walk into another part of the bare, spacious structure. I have to give her the honor that she has maintained this awe.
"The impressive thing is the speed with which PCL does all this," says Kevin Garnett (again, not the NBA player, just the crispy project manager). PCL is the construction company and they work almost twice as fast as normal.
We walk around for a few minutes in the empty space in almost silence. There is a man using a flash in the corner, and a few men are scattered everywhere on scissor lifts working on the ceiling. But usually it feels quiet and immense and expensive, like a cathedral. Apart from frescoes, I realize, there would soon be rows and rows of monumental constructions that swing flavored liquid weed back and forth in elegant glass bottles. I tried to imagine a world where I meet my friends for a drink on a Friday at that Mexican place that I like, and while they sip from mezcal, I slowly get stoned in the sun on a seltzer with pine needle taste, manufactured here and legally shipped to Los Angeles. For now, however, it was all just a promise, a projection of what a future reality could hold.
"It's just an empty box," says Garnett, and I nod because he's right.
Two months after my visit, the Canopy Board votes to expel one of its two CEOs, reportedly because the company spends much more money than it took.
Finally, a few days before the 4/20 pot holiday, I have the opportunity to drink some weed wine in Napa, California. A detained cannabis PR woman, Cynthia Salarizadeh, had collaborated with wine industry veteran Tracey Mason to create House of Saka, a marijuana-soaked, alcohol-free rosé made with water-soluble THC. So of course they throw a 75-person dinner on a Victorian farm in wine country to celebrate.
The ranch is in the middle of nowhere, and in the car en route, Salarizadeh goes crazy. Apparently CNBC had to send a camera crew – in fact, that was the whole reason they had the event, she reveals – but two days ago the cable network was canceled.
"In all my years of PR I have never seen anything so unprofessional," she steams. "We dropped 40 Gs on this thing!"
Now she's nervous about everything. She is afraid that the wine looks too cloudy because it is natural and unfiltered. She is afraid it will taste like a pot. She is afraid that nobody will show up. She worries that her eyebrows look strange.
We arrive there, and it is beautiful, the sunlight flows over the stained glass of the converted milkshed. Each glass of Saka contains about 5 milligrams of THC, so when I get my first drink from the bar, I tell myself that I can get five or six during the night. "It doesn't taste bad!" I say, after my first sip. Another woman says she can taste the weed, but I can't do that at all. A man comes along with scallops on a cracker, and suddenly it's cocktail hour and people arrive.
I meet the smooth and ubiquitous political consultant Sean Donahoe, with his rough hair and rectangular glasses, and he tells me that he really enjoys getting stoned by drinking. "Drinks have a sparkling high," he says. "It's like drinking champagne with a codeine kicker." When I am skeptical that the trend will ever continue, he reminds me that somewhere in the following year somewhere in West Hollywood non-smoking, social edible social cannabis rooms will be opened: "That is made for drinks!"
When I have two glasses, Salarizadeh introduces me to Ned Fussell, one of the founders of the Sonoma-based cannabis company CannaCraft, the company that collaborated with Lagunitas on a hop-flavored, marijuana-infused sparkling water called HiFi Hops. Fussell is a scrappy lifelong pot grower from Wooster, Massachusetts. Over the past decade, he and his co-founder CannaCraft have built up a major force in the California market, with 250 employees and a range of successful brands. Salarizadeh was talking about spreading Saka through CannaCraft.
Soon it's time for dinner, and while we sit under the chandeliers and exposed beams in a room that looks like a raised parlor on the border, I ask Fussell to equate me: does anyone really buy HiFi Hops? I mean, does anyone really want sparkling water that tastes like beer and makes you high?
"It is the number one carbonated weed drink in California!" He says brutally. (There are hardly any carbonated weed drinks in California pharmacies.)
Jeff Henderson, the brand manager of HiFi Hops, sits down next to us. "We are sold out at the two pharmacies where we are, in San Francisco," he says.
"Twelve bottles!" Jokes from Fussell.
At this point I realize that I am enjoying myself. I feel pretty excited and somewhat reassured that the people behind a product that I found ridiculous didn't take it too seriously either. We eat a colorful lettuce salad with marigold flowers and shaved watermelon radishes, when Karen Hamilton, Lagunitas & Director of Community Relations, walks upstairs in a horizontal striped cotton maxi dress with a glass of Saka in one hand and a glass of red in the other.
& # 39; Double Fisting? & # 39; I ask.
"Well, I wanted to try this," – the weed wine, she means – "but I wasn't sure how much I would like the taste, so I got a backup." She likes the way it tastes, though. "It has a tartness that I like, such as a lemon or a Marlborough sauvignon blanc."
Niet lang daarna realiseer ik me dat ik uit het oog ben verloren hoeveel glazen ik heb gehad en dat ik de lemon ricotta ravioli volledig heb gemist. Ik maak me zorgen dat ik te stoned ga worden, maar de vibes zijn goed, dus ik ga ermee akkoord. Ik pak een deel van de gestoofde varkensschouder voordat het koud wordt, want de geroosterde heilbot is dat al. Op aandringen van Fussell probeer ik een fles hifi-hop, of misschien twee. Dan zie ik Yvonne DeLaRosa Green en haar man Sam, de bruisende hippie-eigenaren van een cannabiswinkel in Malibu. Groen draagt een draperende roze parel bezaaide sjaal en ze vertelt me dat ze geen dranken op voorraad hebben.
“We hadden ze eerder. What happened? 'Vraagt ze aan haar man.
"Het verkocht ook niet", legt hij uit.
"Ik denk dat de milligrammen te hoog waren", zegt ze, maar ze wil beginnen met het dragen van Saka.
Iemand doet een aankondiging over een dessertbar en ik vind Donahoe weer, terwijl ik een normaal bier drink.
"Is dit hoe het de hele zomer zal zijn?" Vraagt hij weemoedig. "High-end evenementen?" Ik kan niet zeggen of hij op de een of andere manier verdrietig is over hoe mooi dit feest is of gewoon dezelfde soort whiplash ervaart die Morrison zo onrustig had gemaakt.
Plots is het 21:25 uur en zijn de schoenen van Salarizadeh uit. Ze ziet er veel relaxter uit dan onderweg. In de buurt wordt een ouder echtpaar freaky op de dansvloer.
Ik begin te praten met een man in een tweedy-jas die een bedrijf bezit dat de alcohol uit wijn en bier en sterke drank verwijdert – een sleutelfactor in dit alles, omdat je op elke plaats met legale wiet niet kunt mixen van cannabis en alcohol op dezelfde manier artikel. Hij vertelt me dat hij helemaal gestopt was met het gebruiken van marihuana, maar dat dranken hem hadden teruggebracht.
"Deze zijn licht, maar het gaat snel, genoeg om het te voelen," zegt hij. In this moment, I know exactly what he’s talking about: you feel the acceleration, most, when you’re getting intoxicated, so the ramp-up has to be quick but not too steep. Classic pot drinks like the Cannabis Quencher come on too strong, and too fast, long after the instinct to get high has dissipated. But this — this is great. The profound fog that I’d been bracing for had never come on. My night of drinking weed was… actually really enjoyable.
Of course, one good night does not an industry make. And remember: I’m someone who already likes the feeling of being stoned.
On another night, I bring a four-pack of that low-dose Two Roots product to a dinner party of cannabis-curious women, and it doesn’t go well. As one friend tries to pop the child-proof tab, the weed beer squirts in her face. Another tries to pour hers into a glass and ends up needing to crush the can to get all of the liquid out. “This is a disaster,” she observes, then takes a sip. “It tastes like someone put hops in Natty Light,” she says, “and I’d rather be drinking Natty Light.”
Instead of hitting within 15 minutes and wearing off within an hour and a half, as promised, the Two Roots leaves one of my friends intensely high for over four hours. The date she goes on later that evening, with a hot guy from out of town, does not go well.
“It wasn’t at all unpleasant,” she texts later, as I apologize for ruining her night. “I can imagine if I was home alone being like, ‘I’ll drink that and go to bed.’ But I wouldn’t do it socially for the same reason I don’t smoke weed socially. It’s just the wrong mix.”
I realize she’s right. With alcohol, everything speeds up, and the distance between yourself and other people seems to shrink. With marijuana, the world slows down, and a light-hearted haze creeps over you, defamiliarizing reality. The experiences are not interchangeable. The people who can’t handle being stoned in public are not going to suddenly learn how. And until they do, the mainstream popularity of pot drinks is going to remain, well, a pipe dream.