What You Need to Know About the Cannabis Beverage Trend

What You Need to Know About the Cannabis Beverage Trend


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 being able to do what they had already been doing without the worry of 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: Cannabis beverages.

Sales of soda/pop/Coke (depending on the region you live in) are down to the lowest point they’ve seen in three decades. People are forgetting the soda and grabbing what they perceive to be healthier drinks instead.

Coconut water and Kambucha tea are hot right now and in some states, cannabis beverages are hitting the shelves. If you live in or visit Washington, Oregon, Colorado or California, you can find the beverages without having to look very hard. Sales hit just over $35 million in 2017 and sales this year have increased.

The question that begs an answer is this: Is it legal? The answer is no, unless you live in a state where the use of recreational marijuana is legally permissible. But the answer is also yes, depending on where and how the product was derived. Let’s take a closer look.

Marijuana Versus 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. If you saw the plants side by side, you would be able to see the difference. 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 non psychoactive 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.

If a beverage is infused with CBD derived from the marijuana plant, it’s illegal without a prescription. If the CBD is derived from the hemp plant, it is legal, provided they have jumped through the right hoops to prove where the oil came from and how it was produced.

A beverage company must do more than correctly source the CBD oil they plan on adding to their drink. They must also follow federal requirements for formulation and processing. Additionally, they much label their beverage following strict guidelines.

Once a beverage company does all the right things as far as the feds are concerned, they can typically sell their product across state lines as long as their product is in line with local laws.

So what does it mean for the consumer? If you are walking 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.

Do You Really Need CBD?

Whether or not there are really health benefits to consuming CBD is mainly anecdotal for now. That said, hundreds of thousands of people agree that there are indeed benefits. They may be:

  • Pain relief: It’s thought that CBD interacts with the brain in such a way that inflammation is reduced and pain is alleviated.
  • Anti-seizure: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that patients with Dravet syndrome saw their seizure activity reduced by an average of 38.9 percent when given CBD versus a placebo.
  • Anxiety: A promising study showed that CBD reduces the effects of anxiety, particularly in people who experience social anxiety.
  • Cancer: CBD has been shown to fight cancer in pre-clinical studies. That means that mammals have not been used in the studies, so to say that CBD is definitively effective in fighting cancer has not been proven.
  • Diabetes: In a study of non-obese mice prone to diabetes, CBD was shown to reduce the onset of diabetes by 68 percent.

The (Apparent) Benefits of Cannabidiol infographic

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While many people are jumping aboard the CBD bandwagon, many of the claims for its benefits have not been scientifically proven. Does that mean the claims are false? Of course not. It only means that any person who decides to consume CBD for a specific reason should do so with the understanding that the compound may not affect them in the same manner it has others.

Speak with a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Today

As a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer, Steven E. Kellis defends people charged with impaired driving on a daily basis. 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.