Are THC-infused drinks becoming mainstream in the US?
Drinks infused with the psychoactive substance THC are now being sold by US retailer Total Wine & More in Minnesota, as a nationwide roll-out could also be planned.
The retailer, which has 260 stores across the States, is one of the first nationwide firms to sell such drinks that contain the part of the cannabis plant that creates a high, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
According to the Daily Mail, the drinks will be sold in three Minnesota stores, but there is potential for the plans to roll out across the country.
Drinks brands being sold by the retailer have some products on their website that include 50mg of THC. One of the brands, Cantrip, contain 25mg and 50mg of THC per can in some of its sodas.
But campaigners have warned the drinks could be dangerous, especially for teenagers. Currently recreational marijuana use is legal in 24 states and there is no age federal age requirement on purchasing THC-infused drinks. This is despite a strict 21 age rule across the country for the purchasing of alcohol.
But regardless of the lack of rules, many states have introduced their own legislation stating customers must be over 21 for the purchasing of THC drinks.
The US market for THC-infused drinks has increased recently as legalisation has grown across the country, with mocktails, seltzers and wines without alcohol being sold as a healthier high as they have less calories and are dubbed hangover-free.
THC-infused drinks are different to CBD-infused drinks, which include the non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol, and have been available in the US for more than a decade, and more recently in the UK as well.
But former White House drug policy advisor Dr Kevin Sabet told the Mail that there was evidence THC was particularly dangerous for teenagers, and resulted in high rates of fatal traffic collisions.
Addiction for profit?
Sabet said: “As the beverage alcohol industry expands into a new area of addiction-for-profit, this is only going to get worse.
“While Big Marijuana, Big Alcohol, and its Wall Street investors might see THC beverages as a way to rake in more profits, the public will pay a steep price and millions of Americans will experience pain and heartbreak.”
Studies into THC-infused drinks are still sparse but there is a view that they are ingested into the body in a similar way to edible THC products.
The news also follows rumours in the summer that the USA could be moving to a similar rule to Canada with a two alcoholic drinks a week recommendation, with fresh guidelines due to be reviewed in 2025.
A director of the NIAAA, Dr George Koob said that if there’s health benefits, there could be a re-evaluation, but the Biden White House ruled out any immediate changes.
Current guidance allows men to have two bottles of beer, glasses of wine or shots per day and women can have one.