As recreational marijuana becomes legal, some beer consumers may look elsewhere for their mind-altering substance of choice. With legal cannabis rolling out this summer in Canada, the Canadian beer market has started to look into how to respond to this threat. One option: cannabis beer.
According to the International Cannabis Business Conference, Canadian beer and cannabis markets are looking into merging. For consumers in the United States, though, it doesn’t look like “cannabeer” — at least alcoholic cannabeer — will be in the cards, bringing up larger concerns about the clash between federal and state marijuana laws.
“It comes down to authority,” says Mark Pettinger, the spokesperson for the Recreational Marijuana Program under the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Since the federal government is in charge of alcohol regulations and recreational marijuana is controlled by the state of Oregon, he says, the two substances are in conflict.
Since pot is federally illegal — classified as a Schedule 1 drug along with heroin — it makes it tricky for American brewers who want to eliminate the middleman between a beer and a joint.
“Folks in the industry are experimenting,” Pettinger says. “Brewers stand to lose their federal license for infusing beer with cannabis.”
There has been experimenting in states where recreational marijuana is legalized, and some find that they’re fighting an uphill battle. One popular experiment is to infuse beer with CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, which some brewers find goes especially well with the hop-heaviness of IPAs.
However, according to Denver’s Westword, Colorado brewery Dad & Dudes was approved for its General Washington’s Secret Stash CBD IPA by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association, only to be told later that the brewery had to shut it down.
Closer to home, Portland-based Coalition Brewing could face the same fate with their Two Flowers CBD-containing IPA, but according to its website is still selling the 6 percent alcohol, 55 IBU and 3 mg of CBD per 12 oz glass beverage at locations around Portland.
In Canada, marijuana laws are handled at the federal level, which means making and selling cannabeer is possible. In the United States, this is just one example of the disjointed nature at which the federal and state governments operate, opening up the potential for chaos regarding marijuana regulation.
Pettinger says that he doesn’t believe federal cannabis reclassification will happen in the near future, condemning it to state-by-state regulation.
So, as long as the federally-operated Tobacco and Tax Bureau controls alcohol, and marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, don’t count on cannabeer being legal in Oregon — or the whole U.S. — anytime soon.