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Welcome to the big, wide world of cannabis-infused beverages! From refreshing sodas to soothing teas, cannabis drinks are easy to consume and highly sessionable, making them the perfect replacement for alcohol at parties and unwinding after work.

But maybe drinking cannabis is a new experience for you. What can you expect? Let’s explore cannabis beverages, from how they’re made to expected effects — plus a few of our favorite drinks.

What Are Cannabis-Infused Beverages?

Cannabis beverages transform cannabis into a drinkable format. They come in a wide variety of options, like sodas, seltzers, teas, coffees, and powdered drink mixes, with different formulations containing cannabis-derived compounds, such as cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Drinkable cannabis products combine the speed of onset you’d get from inhalable products with the duration of effects (and deliciousness) of edibles. With a few high-potency exceptions, you’ll usually find that weed drinks are designed to be sessionable, thanks to a low to medium serving of THC.

How Are Cannabis-infused Drinks Made?

All drinkable cannabis starts with an extraction, usually via one of the three most common extraction techniques: CO2, butane/propane, or ethanol. Yet, no matter which type of extraction it is, the process essentially follows the same four basic steps:

  1. The plant material is soaked in the solvent to dissolve the trichomes containing all the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes.
  2. The mixture is filtered to remove the plant material, leaving only the valuable compounds behind.
  3. The solvent is removed, and the solvent-free extraction undergoes additional rounds of distillation to remove more impurities and reach the desired purity.
  4. The extract goes through a nano-emulsification process to improve the final formulation.

Boosting Cannabis-Infused Drinks with Nanoemulsion Technology

What is nanoemulsion? Almost all the cannabis drinks you’ll find today use a process called nanoemulsion to break down cannabis extracts containing THC and other cannabinoids into tiny, nano-sized particles.

The resulting nanoemulsion contains cannabinoid particles in the range of 10-100 nanometers in size, which is thousands of times smaller than the original extract particles. Not only do these tiny particles blend more consistently into liquids and have a much greater surface area for more efficient absorption.

In turn, better absorption means improved bioavailability, which is a fancy way to say you’ll experience more from less. In a hypothetical side-by-side comparison with 10 mg of THC, you’ll absorb (and feel) more from the nanoemulsion version than you would from the original extraction.

Nanoemulsion also means that active compounds are absorbed through your mouth and stomach lining rather than waiting for your liver to process these molecules. This mechanism translates into a much faster onset of effects than a traditional edible.

Long story short: Nanoemulsions are more efficient, faster acting, and designed to work in tasty, drinkable formats.

How Do Cannabis-Infused Beverages Work?

When it comes to experiencing cannabis, you have two choices: You can either inhale it (smoking and vaping) or you can ingest it (eating and drinking).

How you consume it alters how your body processes the active compounds, which means slightly different results. Let’s compare:

What Happens When You Smoke Cannabis?

If you puff on a joint or pull from a vape, the cannabinoids enter your body through your lungs. Your lungs are comprised of tiny air sacs called alveoli that make up a massive surface area roughly the same size as a tennis court. This means every inhale of smoke or vapor gets efficiently and near-instantly absorbed into the bloodstream just seconds after breathing in.

What Happens When You Eat Cannabis?

When you eat cannabis, let’s say in a gummy or a bite of chocolate, the vast majority of the active compounds, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), must travel through the digestive system for eventual processing in the liver. Only once the liver metabolizes them do they end up in the bloodstream.

The absorption process is slower compared to inhaling cannabis, but due to the way the liver metabolizes THC and other compounds (THC transforms into the more potent 11-hydroxy-THC metabolite), the effects are typically much stronger and last longer.

What Happens When You Drink Cannabis?

The cannabinoids contained in cannabis beverages largely follow the same journey as conventional edibles, which leads to longer-lasting, more powerful effects. But, some of the active ingredients get absorbed directly into your bloodstream through the lining of your mouth and stomach. This is especially true for drinks using nanoemulsified cannabinoids.

Effects of Cannabis-Infused Beverages

What Effects Can You Expect from a Cannabis Drink?

You’ll find specific effects vary depending on the ingredients, but in general, hemp and cannabis-infused beverages are relaxing and euphoric. If they contain THC, you’ll feel the same familiar buzz you’ve come to expect from a joint or an edible, while CBD-only drinks are more calming.

How long do cannabis drinks take to kick in? You should start to feel the effects within 10 to 15 minutes of drinking it, and you’ll hit peak effects after approximately 45 minutes. Effects last for four to six hours. Remember that these estimates vary depending on the person, dose, and whether or not the cannabinoids are a nanoemulsion.

Like anything, marijuana drinks, especially THC drinks, may come with side effects. Usually, any side effects are mild and short-lived. Still, if you overdo it, you may experience rapid heart rate, dizziness, anxiety, disorganized thoughts, memory loss, and nausea or vomiting.

Tips for Responsible Drinking

You aren’t the only one avoiding drinking alcohol but still seeking a social buzz. It’s why cannabis sodas, sparkling waters, and social tonics are so popular at parties these days. If you choose to sip on THC-infused social tonics or something with ABV, the advice is essentially the same:

  1. Start low and go slow: Especially for anyone unfamiliar with the effects of THC, you’ll want to start with a drink with a low dose (under 5 mg). Slowly sip on one during the course of your event, and don’t go back for seconds for several hours. As you understand the euphoric high, you’ll be better able to gauge how many you can handle without experiencing any negative side effects.
  2. Check the label: You have a lot of options in terms of cannabis-infused beverages. Before you crush a few at your next event, do yourself a favor and read the label. Figure out what cannabinoids it contains, the serving size, and if it includes other mind-altering ingredients.
  3. Do not drink and drive: It goes without saying that if you drink THC at a party, you’ll want to make alternative arrangements that don’t include getting behind the wheel. Whether it’s alcohol, THC, or any other mind-altering substances, if you drink, it’s safest to walk or hail a ride-share home.

The Best Cannabis Drink Brands

1. St. Ides

Ides High Teas

  • Flavors: Wild Raspberry High Tea, Georgia Peach, Maui Mango, High Punch
  • Cannabinoid Content: 100 mg of THC
  • Serving Suggestions: Drink chilled or mix creatively.

These teas pack a punch with 100 mg of THC, delivering the experience of your favorite iced tea. This is a powerful high, and thanks to the nanoemulsion technology, it’s formulated for rapid onset. Beyond the powerful cannabinoid content, the standout part of these cannabis drinks is the all-natural fruit juice, which promises big flavor in every sip.

Ides Shots

  • Flavors: Strawberry, Lemonade, Blue Razz, Watermelon
  • Cannabinoid Content: 100 mg of THC
  • Serving Suggestions: Designed to enjoy on the go.

Despite their small size, St. Ides’ shots deliver a potent effect thanks to the 100 mg of THC packed into every little bottle. Once again, these shots use a nanotechnology formulation, so you can expect enhanced effects that onset quickly. And this isn’t the nasty energy shot from the gas station. St. Ides’ shots focus on flavor, with no bitter aftertaste.

2. The Fizz

  • Flavors: Strawberry, Orange, Ginger Root, Classic Cola, Lemon Lime
  • Cannabinoid Content: 10 mg of THC (standard) or 100 mg THC (Extra strength)
  • Serving Suggestions: Enjoy chilled.

The Fizz line of sparkling waters and sodas combines THC with a refreshing, bubbly, and effervescent flavor. Whether you need the usual 10 mg serving of THC or an extra-potent dose of 100 mg, pop open a can and savor the experience.

3. Not Your Father’s

  • Flavors: Root Beer, Alpine Splash
  • Cannabinoid Content: 100 mg of THC
  • Serving Suggestions: Enjoy chilled. Try as a base for an ice cream float!

Not Your Father’s sodas combine classic flavors, like root beer, with a potent 100 mg of THC. A nanoemulsified cannabis extract has fast-acting effects, meaning you can get to socializing faster than ever. Not Your Father’s Alpine Slash flavor also comes with a kick of caffeine for an added energy boost.

4. Mary Jone’s

  • Flavors: Hatch Chili Lime
  • Cannabinoid Content: 100 mg of THC
  • Serving Suggestions: Enjoy chilled.

Since 1996, a small team of soda lovers has dedicated themselves to bringing you the best pure cane sugar soda possible. Now, Mary Jones’ mission is to keep you satisfied and cannabis-infused with new, innovative flavors to stimulate your spirit. Enjoy this limited-release Hatch Chili Lime soda, infused with 100 mg of THC, for a fast-acting and enjoyable experience, thanks to SoRSE Technology.

5. Pabst Blue Ribbon

  • Flavors: Guava, Midnight Berries
  • Cannabinoid Content: 15 mg of Total THC (10 mg THC and 5 mg THCv)
  • Serving Suggestions: Enjoy chilled, especially during the day.

Pabst Blue Ribbon continues expanding the dosing spectrum with High Seltzer Energy Guava featuring THCv! Perfect for those days when you want the buzz but still have focus. With 10 mg of THC and 5 mg THCv, this is an all-natural cannabis-derived boost with no caffeine needed. All Pabst Blue Ribbon High Seltzers feature a proprietary formula that uses nanotechnology emulsion for quick onset and increased bioavailability.

Cannabis Drinks: The Future of the Cannabis Experience

Cannabis-infused drinks are the best of both worlds. They offer the rapid onset of inhalables and the longer-lasting effects of edibles, all wrapped up in delicious, refreshing formats. Whether you’re looking for a mellow buzz, a powerful high, or a calming experience, there’s a cannabis drink out there for you.

At Abide Cannabis in Napa Valley, we stock the best cannabis drinks in the state. Whether you order online or stop by our store, check out the finest cannabis-infused beverages on the market today. Our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you through our diverse options, helping you find the perfect drink to suit your needs and preferences.

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