Adult-use cannabis may still be illegal in South Carolina, but that lame fact hasn't stopped a hemp company from opening the state's first cannabis cocktail bar.
The Cannabis Dry Bar, located on James Island just south of Charleston, is the latest venture of High Rise Beverage Company, a local CBD and hemp-derived THC beverage producer. The new bar, which is housed in a new location of the Charleston Hemp Collective, offers a variety of hemp-infused mocktails and other nonalcoholic drinks. Customers can also snag a range of traditional hemp products, including gummies, tinctures, teas, and more.
“It is cannabis themed, but it’s a wellness bar,” High Rise and Charleston Hemp Collective founder Matt Skinner explained to Eater Carolinas. “We’re going through a big NA [nonalcoholic] movement right now. A lot of Generation Z isn’t drinking anymore, and we are getting more and more educated on the medicinal benefits of the hemp plant.”
High Rise co-owner Chris Long told WCBD News 2 that his personal experience with a booze-free lifestyle helped shape the new venture. “I quit drinking alcohol six years ago and I wasn’t able to have some of the social, you know, enjoyment that I had before [when] going to bars. I feel like this space has just created that social environment where you can come out and enjoy yourself again without having the alcohol aspect.”
Each of the bar's mocktails can be made with hemp-derived delta-8 or delta-9 THC. CBD and hemp-free options are also available for anyone who wants to stay completely sober, and the bar sells nonalcoholic sparkling wine as well. High Rise's own CBD and THC seltzers are also available in a variety of flavors, of course. And for customers who want to get extra lit, the bar sells individual delta-8 or delta-9 vegan gummies.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp in the US, has allowed businesses like High Rise to bring legal forms of THC to prohibition states like South Carolina. Hemp producers have been making a killing selling infused gummies and tinctures for years now, but the cannabis beverage market is really starting to shape up. In fact, financial analysts estimate that America's infused legal beverage market could hit nearly $3 billion by 2025.
But while cannabis beverage sales are skyrocketing, traditional alcohol sales are starting to tank. Major alcohol conglomerates have seen the writing on the wall, though, and are already investing heavily in the weed industry. Major booze corporations like Constellation Brands have made multibillion-dollar investments in Canadian weed companies, and popular brands like Coors and Pabst are now offering their own nonalcoholic CBD and THC seltzers.
The growing popularity of infused beverages is convincing more and more canny entrepreneurs to open weed-friendly bars and restaurants. Denver's first cannabis bar, which offers non-alcoholic beers infused with THC and CBD, just opened for business last year, and more are on the way. Other establishments, like Nashville's Buds & Brews, are also relying on federally-legal hemp products to skirt their home states' restrictive weed laws.