Are THC-Infused Drinks Safe?

THC-infused beverages are the buzz. Marijuana is now legal in 21 states, ­giving rise to a new trend: adding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the principal psychoactive element of cannabis — to beverages, including coffees, teas, mocktails, canned seltzers, spritzers, and alcohol-free ciders, beers, and wines.

So-called weed drinks have been gaining steam in the past two years. According to cannabis market-research firm Headset, THC-infused drinks now command 1.1 percent of the U.S. beverage market. And some experts project they’ll reach $2.3 billion in global sales by 2027.

Weed drinks are marketed as “low calorie” and “natural,” “a social buzz without the effects of alcohol,” as well as “hangover-free.”

But are they healthy — or even safe? It’s too soon to know.

Research and testing have been slowed by government regulations. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency still ­classifies THC as a Schedule I drug, which requires researchers to register with the agency before conducting studies.

The average dose of THC in an edible is 5 mg, but companies are marketing drinks with as little as 2.5 mg and up to a powerful 100 mg per bottle.

That may mean little to most people until they’ve tried it, James MacKillop, PhD, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at Canada’s McMaster University, tells the New York Times.

“If you tell someone this is an 8 percent beer, they say, ‘That’s a strong beer,’” MacKillop explains. “If you tell someone this is a 20-mg drink versus a 5-mg drink, that’s Greek to many people.”

This article originally appeared as “Welcome to Weed Drinks” in the May 2023 issue of Experience Life.

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