Hot Topic: Cannabis infusions at BevNet Live
Attendees at this week’s BevNet Live Conference in Santa Monica report that VC’s and Private Equity companies were scheduling back-to-back meetings as they chased opportunities to invest in the booming area of cannabis infused drinks, including kombucha. New and existing brands alike share in the massive interest in the incorporation of marijuana, hemp, THC, and CBD as functional ingredients in food and beverage brands.
Industry leader GT Dave used his keynote at the event to announce that GTsKombucha is launching a new line of CBD-infused sparkling wellness waters, named Dream Catcher. Dream Catcher replaces their discontinued Cannabliss brand. Brand confusion, for some, might be an issue when they reach for the existing Euphoria offering expecting a kick it lacks!
GTs joins a select number of other brewers such as Awaken Kombucha in Florida and Good Stuff Tonics in San Diego who infuse their ‘booch with these ingredients. Good Stuff contains THC and is only sold in licensed dispensaries. It’s hoped this restriction won’t apply to CDB-only infusions, since CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis.
But this does not mean the CBD-only infusions are going to be sold everywhere. There are concerns that CBD is an ingredient that both the FDA and the California Department of Public Health’s Food and Drug Branch have repeatedly said is NOT legal in foods, beverages or dietary supplements. While the pending 2018 Farm Bill might lead some companies to hope this will change, they admit to operating in a “gray area”.
Nevertheless, the big money is looking hard at potential investment opportunities, seeing a rosy future for all kinds of cannabis beverages.
Indeed, the main BevNet event was preceded by a half-day Cannabis Forum. This was geared to helping attendees navigate the volatile, ambiguous cannabis market. BevNet claims that the food and beverage industry has much to gain from the opportunity to incorporate cannabis into new products. They cautioned that there is still much to understand when it comes to utilizing cannabis-derived ingredients in food and beverage. Regulatory issues need to be worked out, research conducted, and public attitudes considered.
Will cannabis infusions be one toke over the line for some?