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Sipping Your Cannabis: The Ethos Guide to Infused Beverages

Seltzer, soda, and even non-alcoholic wine: Beverages are the hottest new trend in cannabis. As you explore your options, it’s important to keep in mind that beverages may work a little differently with your body than the products you’re used to. Here’s what you need to know about how cannabis beverages work, the exciting options available to you, and tips for trying a cannabis beverage.

Cannabis beverages can look like any other seltzer or cocktail.

Why choose cannabis beverages?

Cannabis beverages offer a discreet and easy way to consume cannabis, no matter how or why you consume. They fit right in at a cocktail party alongside the drinks, an excellent option if you prefer cannabis over alcohol. An infused beverage also makes it easy to medicate discreetly on the go, with many options that mask the sometimes-harsh cannabis taste. Finally, cannabis beverages offer long-lasting effects, bringing sustained relief over a several hour period.

Cannabis beverage types and product options

Whether cannabis beverages are a way to start your day, replace alcohol in social situations, or just simply consume in an easier way, there are new developments in the beverage space that means more choice for consumers than ever before.

Beverages fall into two categories: Drinks that contain nano-emulsified phytocannabinoids that offer a faster onset, and slower onset options that are made with a syrup infused with phytocannabinoids. Here’s a bit more about each:

Slow onset beverages

Syrup-based options make up the majority of products available on the cannabis beverage market. These involve mixing a syrup infused with cannabinoids into a liquid. These types of drinks can range in potency from 25mg THC to more than 150mg THC. 

  • Why do slow onset beverages take longer to have a longer effect? The syrup in the beverages behaves in your system much like an edible, which needs to be digested and processed before you feel its effects.
  • How to consume slow onset beverages: Sip your desired amount and wait around 1 hour to take more as your body processes the cannabinoids. Take a closer look at the beverage’s label or laboratory test results for specific serving information and phytocannabinoid content.

Nano-emulsified beverages

Through nanoencapsulation, phytocannabinoid particles are broken down small enough to be mixed into liquids – and remain mixed – without dominating the flavor of the beverage itself. This process improves the homogeneity, or even distribution of cannabinoids, in the beverages, and masks the cannabis taste that may come along with syrups. If the label says “nano” or “fast-acting,” your product is a nano-emulsified beverage.

  • Why do nano-emulsified beverages take effect so quickly? Nano-emulsified phytocannabinoids that are so small they pass through tissue and enter your bloodstream without being metabolized. This rapid absorption increases bioavailability of the cannabinoids, meaning more of them circulate and take effect. As a result, nano-emulsified beverages typically range in potency from 1mg THC to 25mg THC, less than their slower-onset counterparts.
  • How to consume nano-emulsified beverages: With nano-emulsified beverages, you consume less than you normally would to feel the same effects. If your normal edible amount is 10mg, for example, a 5mg equivalent may be sufficient in nano beverages. Consume a small amount and wait around 15 minutes to see how you feel before drinking more.

Beverage product options

Here’s a look at some of the beverage products you might come across when shopping at your local dispensary:

Beverage additive
  • Sodas and tonics: Seltzers, soda, and tonics in unique flavors like lemon basil and grapefruit rosemary bring a gourmet twist to just a regular cola or a raspberry flavored seltzer.
  • Beverage additives: Products like powders and liquid beverage enhancers turn your favorite drinks into infused beverages. Many come with easy-to-measure dispensing so you can clearly dispense how much you want to consume in one session.
  • Coffee and tea: Whether ground coffee, tea bags, or single serve brewing cups, infused coffee and tea can help consumers start their day right or smoothly sail into a relaxing evening. It’s not just the novelty of this beverage type: There is some research that suggests CBD could mitigate some of caffeine’s side effects. Some studies have even linked coffee to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), making this combination a natural pair. 
  • Water: Nanoencapsulation technology enables the production of cannabis-infused water and sparkling water. 
  • Non-alcoholic wine: For consumers who abstain from alcohol but miss the taste of a good wine, nonalcoholic wine brings a new level of luxury to cannabis beverages. This product is currently only available in select markets.
  • Cannabis infused mocktails. While you won’t find beverages that mix alcohol and cannabis, cannabis “mocktails” mimic the same aesthetic and social setting in which friends might share a drink. These beverages give cannabis consumers a non-alcoholic option to enjoy with their friends during happy hour.

Tips for consuming cannabis drinks

While nano and slower onset beverages differ in how they should be consumed, there are general best practices to follow to ensure you’re consuming the right amount for your desired experience. These include:

  • Read the label carefully: The first thing to note about a cannabis beverage is whether it is a fast-onset product (nano-emulsified) or a slow-onset beverage. The differences between these types of beverages mean the way they are consumed must also be different, as nano-emulsified products will take effect quickly, while slow onset beverages take much longer. Additionally, cannabis beverages vary widely and some are significantly more potent than others, so you may not need to finish the whole drink to achieve the desired effects. Read the label to confirm how much is contained per serving so you can properly plan your session, as well as to confirm whether your drink is a slower-onset syrup or a faster-onset, more bioavailable nano concoction.
  • Sip slowly: As with all cannabis products, it is best to start low and go slow. Especially if you’re new to nano-emulsified products, you want to consider how these beverage types may affect you. Take a few sips of your chosen serving size and see how you feel after about 15 minutes (for nano-emulsified drinks) or around 1 hour (for syrup drinks) before continuing.
  • Know the phytocannabinoid profile: Not all cannabis beverages have the same amount of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes, so be sure to check the packaging for information before consuming. Be clear on which cannabinoids are present and in what amounts; this information will help you anticipate the effects of your cannabis beverage.
  • Try different products: You can try a pre-mixed beverage in a can, an additive to take home and put into your own drink, or a relaxing steeped tea that fits right into your bedtime routine. You may need to try a few brands and product types before finding something that works for you. If you have any questions, ask an Ethos associate for recommendations.

The cannabis beverage boom is here

The cannabis beverage industry has faced an uphill battle – after all, fatty phytocannabinoids and water-based liquids don’t mix. This hasn’t prevented, or even slowed, a remarkable innovation in cannabis products in recent years. Now, you can choose from an impressive array of beverages from pre-mixed mocktails and non-alcoholic wine to additives that let you create an infused drink of your own at home. Visit your local Ethos dispensary to see what’s in store and ask an associate how these new cannabis products can find their way into your routine.

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