Although marijuana-infused beverages are expected to be a mega-money maker for the cannabis industry, this sudsy sector could end up getting canned in Michigan if voters decide to approve a recreational cannabis market in the upcoming November election. It is a controversial debate that one over-zealous lawmaker isn’t willing to keep bottled up. Senator Rick Jones believes that people who consume THC-infused beer and sodas will ravage the streets and put the state on the rocks in terms of public safety. But where is the proof? And how much more beverage lingo can we fit into a single paragraph?
Earlier this week, Senator Jones marched up to the steps of the State Capitol to stir things up a bit with respect to the issue of cannabis-infused cocktails. Calling marijuana-infused beer a “recipe for disaster,” the lawmaker submitted a piece of legislation (SB 969) intended to prohibit these types of high libations from being sold throughout the state.
This movement could leave Michigan’s potential for recreational marijuana high but dry.
Alcoholic beverages are responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths nationwide each year. But Jones is concerned that giving people the option of drinking their THC will only inflate the devastation in the Great Lake State. He is most worried that these concoctions will be served in bars and contribute to a hefty increase in cases of stoned driving.
“It’s hard enough for a bartender to [judge how much a patron has had to drink] with alcohol without adding in THC,” he explained to the Senate, according to the Detroit Free Press. “The other element — you can drive with a small amount of alcohol in your system, but you can’t drive with any level of THC. There is zero tolerance.”
As it stands, Colorado is the only state in the nation preparing to sell “beer” infused with THC, the much-loved chemical component of the cannabis plant that produces its stoned effects. But these products are not available down at the local tavern. In fact, while Colorado is on the verge of welcoming its first marijuana-infused beer – the non-alcoholic beverage developed by the creator of Blue Moon – it will be distributed exclusively in retail marijuana dispensaries. This means anyone interested in knocking back a few cold cannabis brews will only be able to do so in the privacy of their own home or backyard, or someone else’s. You get the picture.
Similar to Colorado, in other states, like California, “THC-or-CBD infused alcohol” is also prohibited under the state’s recreational marijuana regulations.
At least for now, no Colorado watering holes can serve cannabis cocktails. While marijuana is fully legal throughout the state, lawmakers still have some reservations toward the idea of social use. The State Legislature recently killed a statewide social use bill for the second year in a row. Right now, Denver is experimenting with a watered-down version. But the program is strictly BYOW (Bring Your Own Weed). It does not allow any of the establishments permitted to engage in this experiment to sell cannabis products of any kind.
The concept of the cannabis café is actually becoming more prevalent parts of California. But these social use lounges have just started to gain traction.
So, we’re not entirely sure where Senator Jones gathered the evidence pointing to marijuana-infused beer as a problem for Colorado. Considering that the product is still a couple of months from being released, it seems highly unlikely that his claims have any basis.
What is known is that keeping the cannabis-infused beverage sector out of Michigan could mean the forfeiture of substantial tax revenue. Some of the latest data from the Cannabiz Consumer Group shows that these bud-made beverages are the next big seller in the world of high society. It seems that health-conscious consumers (and those not too keen on smoking) are more apt to try marijuana if liquid forms are available. The firm predicts THC drinks alone have the potential to generate $15 billion annually on the national front. Cannabis-infused beer could mean millions for the Michigan market.
Still, Senator Jones says marijuana and beer don’t mix. “It’s simply a product that Michigan doesn’t need,” he said, failing to offer up a reasonable distinction between THC liquids and other edible forms of cannabis that are readily available in the state’s medical marijuana sector. Jones’ proposal goes deep. It would even prohibit drinks infused with CBD, the non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant.
“Marihuana-infused alcohol” means alcohol that contains any amount of marihuana,” the bill reads.
Michigan voters will decide this November whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana in the same way as a handful of other states, like Colorado and California. The latest poll shows that nearly 60 percent want to see the initiative go through. The election could be a nail-biting scene that could drive a person to drink. But if Senator Jones gets his way, that will be done without the luxury of cannabis beer.
TELL US, would you drink a beer infused with cannabis?