A Guide to Cannabis-Infused Beverages
What is a cannabis beverage?
Simply put, any food or beverage that is infused with activated cannabis concentrate is considered a cannabis edible. Health Canada differentiates between “edible cannabis solids” (such as chocolates or gummies) and “edible cannabis beverages.”
This article focuses on the types of cannabis beverages found in the Spectrum Therapeutics Shop.
How do cannabis beverages differ from other formats?
Simple, familiar, and refreshing, ready-to-drink cannabis-infused beverages are changing how those with chronic conditions consume their medical cannabis. These beverages are:
Suitable for patients who have difficulty using inhaled medical cannabis formats or suffer from pill fatigue
Convenient and precise, for accurate dosing
Made in unique and easy-to-drink flavours
Available in formulations that range from THC-dominant to balanced to CBD-dominant, to suit individual medical needs
We encourage you to speak with a healthcare professional to determine whether cannabis-infused beverages may be right for you.
Cannabis edibles, including beverages, differ from inhaled formats in how the cannabis is activated. When you smoke or vape cannabis, you activate the cannabinoids by decarboxylating (heating) them. Beverages contain cannabis extract in which these compounds have already been activated, meaning they’re ready to consume when needed, without any additional preparation.
How does a cannabis beverage work?
Ingested cannabis, whether in the form of an edible or a beverage, is processed by your body differently than inhaled cannabis. When you inhale cannabis, the active compounds are absorbed into your bloodstream through the lungs, and onset of effects could begin within seconds to minutes. Ingested cannabis must be processed by your digestive system before it enters your bloodstream; as a result, it may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to begin feeling the effects.
How are cannabis beverages made?
The manufacturing of cannabis beverages is a complex process, but three of the fundamental steps are as follows:
1. CO2 extraction
In order to infuse beverages with cannabis, a cannabis extract is required. To obtain the extract, liquid-state carbon dioxide (CO2) is added to raw cannabis materials, under immense pressure and heat. When the process is complete, the CO2 is released as a gas and only concentrated cannabis extract remains.
2. Short-path distillation
Once the concentrated cannabis extract is collected, it is refined using a process called short-path distillation. This process uses precise vacuum and heat control to turn the concentrated extract into a refined extract—or cannabis distillate—which is ready to be added to beverages.
The refined cannabis distillate is not water soluble, so a blending agent is added. This blending agent attaches to the distillate, allowing it to dissolve in water, creating a uniform, consistent, and pleasant drinking experience.
This process—emulsification—is common in food preparation. Whipped cream, salad dressing, mayonnaise, and butter are all examples of emulsions.
Ready to drink
All of the cannabis-infused beverages available through the Spectrum Therapeutics Shop are ready to drink straight out of the can, with no additional preparation required. Most consumers find these beverages more enjoyable when served chilled, so we recommend refrigerating before drinking.
What are the regulations concerning cannabis beverages?
How much THC can a cannabis beverage contain?
By law, a cannabis beverage cannot contain more than 10 mg of THC per package. Currently, there is no specified limit on how much CBD they can contain.
Where are cannabis beverages available for purchase?
You can purchase cannabis beverages wherever you can legally buy cannabis now. Spectrum Therapeutics customers can find them easily in our shop.
Where can cannabis beverages be consumed?
As of this writing, there aren’t any specific regulations governing where you can and cannot consume cannabis beverages. However, each province sets its own public consumption laws, so it’s advisable to know your local regulations before consuming cannabis beverages in any public space.
Cannabis should not be consumed in any form if you’re driving, operating heavy machinery, or engaging in any other potentially hazardous activity.
Guidelines for responsible consumption of cannabis beverages
When consuming cannabis-infused beverages, it’s important to start low and go slow.
Onset and duration of effects
After ingestion, it may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to begin feeling the effects of a cannabis-infused beverage, and the effects may last for up to 12 hours. Note that some effects could last as long as 24 hours (Health Canada 2020).
It can take up to 4 hours to feel the full effects from drinking or eating cannabis. Consuming more during this time period can result in adverse events that may require medical attention (Health Canada 2020).
We suggest consuming when you have enough time to allow for the effects to pass in order to understand how you will be affected.
What quantity of beverages can I order?
The medical equivalency calculation used by Spectrum Therapeutics is for the purpose of tracking the grams-per-day limit as established by your healthcare provider. Products with higher cannabinoid concentrations will have a higher equivalency than products with lower concentrations.
Store away from children and pets
We package all of our medical cannabis products, including beverages, in childproof containers. But as an extra precaution, cannabis-infused beverages should always be stored where children and pets can’t access them.
The illicit market
Cannabis beverages purchased on the illicit market are not governed by the same safety regulations as those purchased legally. There is no way to ensure that illicit-market beverages contain accurate or consistent doses of THC or CBD, or to confirm their ingredients.. We recommend purchasing cannabis beverages only from the legal market.
Explore specific products
To learn more about specific cannabis-infused beverages available through Spectrum Therapeutics, visit the Spectrum Shop.