Beers and Buds — Alcohol meets the Cannabis Industry


Molson Canadian Brewing Truck
Molson Beer Truck - From Wikimedia Commons

Alcohol and cannabis have an interesting relationship. Some people claim it goes together like a sharp cheese and a full-bodied wine. Others in the liquor industry want nothing to do with Mary Jane, viewing her as too fierce of a competitor. At best? Beer and bud are frenemies in the opinions of many.

They’re not offering the same thing, of course: marijuana and Michelob are not in competition on the level of Michelob and Miller. But they are offering something similar: tipsy, stoned, drunk, high – both alcohol and weed produce the effects of inebriation.

The idea that cannabis smokers drink less alcohol only compounds the rivalry. But is this really the case? The answer is complicated and provides nothing concrete. Some people certainly do replace Coors and the like with cannabis, enjoying the ability to relax without the hangover that follows. Others opt for weed over things like whiskey because it saves them calories (but it can cause the munchies, potentially setting the stage to consume way more calories than a few shots of liquor provides).

Then there are those who do the opposite: they hit the bottle harder when they’re high. Others use alcohol and cannabis together on purpose as complements of each other, paring them the way you’d pair a Cabernet with Fillet Mignon.

While there are certainly different strokes (and tokes!) for different folks, there is lingering fear among those in the beer industry. It’s enough for the Canadian beer industry to ask the government to tax cannabis at higher levels, afraid that too low of taxes will equate to people dropping their beer bongs for the bongs made for herb.

This threat isn’t as prevalent in the United States because of lower taxes and prices – our liquor taxes are nowhere as complicated as those up north. Even so, there is speculation that the overlap between alcohol and marijuana forms some opinions stateside.

Colorado is a prime example. In the first state to legalize recreational weed (beating the state of Washington by about twelve seconds), Mary Jane had the support of the people. She, however, did not have the support of John Hickenlooper, the left-leaning Colorado Governor. What lie behind his resistance is anyone’s guess, but some certainly speculated that his ties to the beer industry (he co-founded the Wynkoop Brewing Company) played a role. To be fair, some believed it was his potential presidential bid that drove him, steering him away from backing anything controversial that could return to bite him on a future campaign trail. For his part, he said the science wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant his support and also expressed concern about increasing use among citizens.

Still, it makes you think.

Not everyone, however, wants beer and bud to remain frenemies; they’re ready to turn them into full-fledged BFFs. At the very least, those in the beer industry are prepared to cover their assets by making sure Mary Jane is firmly in their corner.

Molson Coors Merging with Hydropothecary Corporation

Several alcohol companies have begun looking for a dance partner in cannabis, hoping to tap into the pot profit potential that legalization brings. Molson Coors is one of these companies: they recently merged with the Hydropothecary Corporation.

It’s fair to assume they’re being proactive: as marijuana has grown more mainstream, their sales have declined. In May, they were down 2.5% in the first quarter in Canada and 5.8% in the United States. They also came in 40% under expectations.

The merger with cannabis will give Molson Coors 57.5% control. CEO Frederic Landtmeters went on record to say, ‘While we remain a beer business at our core, we are excited to create a separate new venture with a trusted partner that will be a market leader in offering Canadian consumers new experiences with quality, reliable, and consistent non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.”

Molson Coors aren’t the only ones jumping on this bud wagon – Corona is also going all lime haze. In fact, marijuana beer just might be the next big thing.

Marijuana Beer: Coming Soon

Enter, through the proverbial door, cannabis in a can. It’s not just giants of the industry that are branching out, it’s startups too. A beer brought to you by Province Brands, one with the tagline “beer-powered by cannabis,” is already in production. They’re marketing their beer as one that will give you the same buzz you’re used to, but without the dreaded hangover.

They created this beer by brewing the entire cannabis plant (in order to reap all the benefits), but it’s not beer as we know it: it contains no alcohol, replacing it with 6.5 mg of THC. The drink is designed to produce effects quickly, not an hour or so later the way edibles do.

It’s not on the market yet: it’s coming to a shelf near you in 2019.

So, What’s the Verdict?

Choosing between alcohol and cannabis can be difficult. As mentioned above, some people use them together, though this is not recommended for anyone new to either element (as THC can potentiate the effects of alcohol). It’s not the best option financially, either.

There are certainly advantages to both – alcohol dehydrates you, but some strains of pot cause the “I just drank a bucket of sand” dry mouth; alcohol leaves you inebriated longer than smoking, but it also makes it easier to track your consumption; alcohol is calorie-heavy but pot leads to munchies where you eat everything in your house except your cat (and that’s only because he ran away).

Of course, the inebriating effects are different, with each providing a unique buzz. But therein lies the beauty: alcohol and cannabis aren’t things you need to choose between; they’re not beta fish unable to coexist inside the same bowl. You can have both your Pabst and pot, both your Jack Daniels and your Jack Herer.

As more people in the alcohol industry discover this, they’ll no longer look at pot as the enemy. They’ll simply look at it as a partner.