THC drinks trend: What you need to know

When the fight to legalize marijuana began, some pictured people getting high on street corners and running rampant through neighborhoods. Others pictured sitting in on their decks, finally doing what they had already been doing without worrying about arrest.

There were attitudes and feelings everywhere in between. Many didn’t think beyond smoking the drug and the problems it may or may not cause. Few considered the trend that is taking hold now: THC beverages.

What are THC drinks?

A THC beverage is a drink that contains psychoactive THC, the principal intoxicating component of cannabis. Much like edibles, these beverages deliver similar effects due to their THC content.

Most cannabis drinks are made using a distillate, isolate, or full-spectrum cannabis concentrate, allowing for a range of potencies and flavors.

Fast facts

  • The US cannabis industry is expected to reach nearly $40 billion in 2024.
  • Cannabis will add $115 billion to the US economy in 2024.
  • Recreational marijuana use is illegal in Pennsylvania.

Medical marijuana and THC drinks

As of now, Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, including various forms of cannabis that can be ingested. Patients who are registered and approved by the state’s medical marijuana program can legally purchase and consume marijuana-derived products, including THC-infused beverages, provided these products are offered by licensed dispensaries. However, the state’s medical marijuana program does not allow the use of marijuana in dry leaf form to be smoked, but it does permit vaping.

Recreational use of THC drinks

Recreational marijuana, and by extension, THC-infused drinks, are illegal in Pennsylvania. The state has not legalized marijuana for recreational use, which means that any THC-containing product derived from marijuana plants cannot legally be sold, possessed, or consumed for non-medical purposes. This includes beverages infused with THC.

CBD vs. THC in beverages

There is often confusion between CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) when discussing cannabis-infused drinks. CBD can be legally included in beverages if it is derived from hemp (which is legally defined in the U.S. as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis). Hemp-derived CBD products, including drinks, are legal under federal law and in Pennsylvania, provided they meet certain production and labeling requirements set by the FDA and state authorities.

So what does it mean for the consumer? If you walk down the aisle of your local Philadelphia grocery store and grab a bottle of water infused with CBD, you’re in the clear. The beverage manufacturer has already gotten everything approved. If you head over to a friend’s house who has just returned from California and they hand you a drink containing THC, consuming it is illegal.

Legal considerations and future outlook

Residents and visitors in Pennsylvania need to understand that the possession and use of THC-infused products for recreational purposes could result in legal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. As cannabis laws continue to evolve in Pennsylvania and across the country, there may be changes to these regulations in the future. Discussions and legislative efforts aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana are ongoing, which could potentially alter the legal status of recreational THC-infused beverages.

Popular THC drink brands in the U.S.

  • Ayrloom – Cannabis-infused sparkling waters, apple ciders, and colas. Up to 10mg THC.
  • Cann – Marketed as a “healthy alternative to booze,” Cann offers all-natural, low-calorie drinks “microdosed” with up to 5mg THC.
  • St Ides – The brand’s “unique proprietary formula” features nanoemulsion technology for a rapid onset. High teas and cannabis-infused shots contain 100mg of THC.
  • Tonic – Cannbis-infused beverages, seltzers, mini seltzers, and freezepops. Original Tonic contains 100mg THC; Tonic Fizz contains 25mg THC; Tonic Fizz Shorties contain 10mg THC; Tonic Frost contains 10mg THC per freezepop.
  • Ray’s Infused Lemonade – Each 12oz bottle and 1.75oz “Lil’ Ray’s” contains 100mg THC.

Marijuana vs. hemp

The marijuana plant and the hemp plant are two plants within the cannabis family. They are not the same plant, although people tend to use the terms interchangeably. You could see the difference if you saw the plants side by side. What you wouldn’t be able to see is their significant difference. They do not contain the same amounts of cannabinoids.

Cannabis, or the marijuana plant, contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while hemp only has trace amounts. Hemp has higher amounts of Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is nonpsychoactive and, in some instances, can counteract the “high” a person feels when they consume THC in some way.

Whether or not a cannabis-infused beverage is legal or not comes down to how it is made and sold. The rules are ever-changing as cannabis becomes legalized in some states. In Pennsylvania, for example, medical marijuana is legal, but recreational use is not.

Speak with a Pennsylvania DUI attorney today

As a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer, Steven E. Kellis defends people charged with impaired driving daily. You can be charged with impaired driving if you are discovered to have THC in your system while behind the wheel.

If this has happened to you, an experienced attorney is essential. Reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discover more about your rights and how we can defend you.