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THC-infused drinks compared to ‘craft beer wave’

THC-infused drinks are now being sold in Chicago and New Jersey liquor stores and compared to the ‘craft beer wave’ which swept across the US around a decade ago.

The move follows the decision by Total Wines to trial the sale of THC drinks in Minnesota, with rumours of a planned national roll-out, depending on success and national laws.

It means that Chicago residents can now pick up six-packs of THC-infused WYNK seltzers in liquor stores and not just at a licensed dispensary of marijuana products. In addition, the producer has also announced it is selling the drinks across New Jersey, as it looks to increase its retail footprint.


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The move has been possible because it has re-formulated the beverages to use hemp-derived THC, which is legal to sell in liquor stores through the 2018 Farm Bill. Due to hemp’s reduced amount of THC, it has been declassified as a Schedule 1 drug.

The brand has struck a deal with a beer distributor, Louis Glunz, who will assist in the stocking of the drink in several different liquor stores across the Chicago area, including Binny’s and Garfield’s.

Phil McFarland, Wherehouse Beverage Company’s general manager of THC Beverages and who worked at Half Acre Beer, told Axios that the move reminded him of what happened with craft beer.

Craft beer

McFarland said coming “through the craft beer wave, this feels very familiar to me. In five years or so, this is going to be as pervasive and accepted as craft beer has become.”

The widening of availability to liquor stores — and possibly even supermarket shelves — could remove some of the barriers around purchasing the product, it has also been claimed.

It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will change the law, and whether at a state-level legislation will be changed to make THC-infused beverages more widely available.

A source told the drinks business that law changes would be required before the large-scale national retailers would jump on-board the trend.


The move also represents a significant divergence with other countries, including the UK, where THC is still recognised as a Class B controlled drug, having been re-classified in 2009, reversing relaxation of the laws on the substance in previous years.

Even in the US, the laws are a mixed picture at federal and state-level, most notably California, where relaxation is at its most prevalent.

Recently, the UK Government has relaxed rules on the use of CBD, the non-psychoactive element in cannabis, despite recently rowing back on the daily recommended level.

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