The famous blue ribbon logo from one of America's oldest beer brands is now making its way onto cannabis-infused drinks.
Licensed adult-use dispensaries across California have started selling Pabst Blue Ribbon Cannabis-Infused Seltzer, a new non-alcoholic lemon seltzer infused with 5mg of THC per can. These drinks, which cost $24 for a four-pack, are currently available at a dozen dispensaries, but more dispensaries are expected to begin carrying the product this month. The seltzers can also be purchased online for home delivery in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Humboldt County.
Interestingly, although these products do bear the famous PBR logo, they are not actually being produced by Pabst Brewing. The famous beer company has licensed its brand and logo to Pabst Labs, a California-based cannabis company created by former Pabst employees. And even more unusually, no money was exchanged between the two companies for the licensing, and Pabst Brewery will not receive any profits from the sales of these drinks. (cough-cough)
Although the larger brewery “won't see a dime of profits” from the use of their logo, it does allow them to dip their toes into the cannabis market without directly taking any risks. "Our community has been asking us to do something in the cannabis space," Pabst Blue Ribbon senior brand manager Seamus Gallagher explained to CNN Business. "Until the legal landscape changes, we can't produce this in-house."
The 5mg-per-can THC dose is on the low side for a cannabis beverage, but Pabst Labs believes that the lower dose will help attract people who are curious about weed. The specific dose and individual cans will help consumers control exactly how much THC they want to consume, without running the risk of getting way too high.
"People are using it for what we refer to as 'experience enhancement,' so just taking a regular activity and adding a new spin to it, with either THC in this case or in some cases alcohol," said Rick Maturo, associate director of client services for cannabis practice at Nielsen, to NPR. "Certainly it's a way to relax and unwind at the end of the day.”
So far, weed beverages only make up a tiny percentage of the global cannabis market, but analysts expect that number to grow. Last year, infused drink sales only accounted for 1 percent of the total cannabis market in five western US adult-use states, or about $64 million in total sales. Analysts predict that the global infused beverages market is expected to hit $2.8 billion within five years, though.
These growth predictions have convinced many alcohol conglomerates to get in on the infused beverage game. Federal and state health officials have banned companies from adding cannabinoids to alcohol, so booze companies are hoping to capitalize on the popularity of non-alcoholic beverages. Constellation Brands, owner of Corona and other popular alcohol brands, has partnered with a Canadian weed firm to make its own pot drinks, and AB InBev, Budweiser's owner, is doing the same.
Smaller breweries and beverage companies, including Lagunitas and Jones Soda, have also launched their own infused beverage lines, and MERRY JANE even has its own hemp-infused beer available in Australia.