Drink mixes are the next frontier for cannabis — just add water 

click to enlarge Tastebudz developed ebb, a powder containing THC. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Tastebudz developed ebb, a powder containing THC.

Oil has been all the rage in this new world of cannabis. That makes sense. Getting oil out of flowers is simple at its most basic level. You squeeze the flowers, and oil comes out. There are different levels of refinement to the oil these days as people figure this stuff out — but whether you're dabbing, eating edibles, taking capsules, or vaping, you're dealing with some kind of oil.

Well, there is a whole new generation of cannabinoid concentrate consumption that is beyond oil. Water-soluble liquids and powders that one can just toss in a drink are on the market in some of the more mature cannabis markets (e.g., Colorado, California). There’s even a cannabinoid delivery system that comes as a thin strip of film intended to dissolve under your tongue. No smoke, no greasy kid stuff, no calories, and by-and-large tasteless.

Right now none of this seems to be available in Michigan. A survey of the online menus of several area dispensaries showed no one offering these kinds of products. Sooner or later, however, this stuff will be produced and for sale in state.

One such product, ALT premium liquid cannabis, comes in a little glass vial in five and 10 milligram sizes. According to the label, it contains distilled water, cannabis distillate, lecithin, and natural flavors. There are marks on it so you can measure how many milligrams of the liquid are being used. The manufacturer's instructions recommend trying two milligrams to start, saying "pour your desired dose into a beverage of your choice, mix and enjoy." That is a relatively low dose. According to greensativa.com, 10 milligrams is a standard dose. By that standard, two milligrams is a micro dose.

Still, the ability to pour a little in the drink of your choice opens up a world of possibilities for cannabis users. And the wait time to feel the effects required for edibles — 45 minutes to two hours, depending on several factors — has been shortened. Most of these products claim a 5- to 15-minute wait for onset. That's because they move quickly into the bloodstream without having to go through the digestive process the way oil needs to.

This opens up a wider ability for consumers to standardize doses. Medical marijuana users definitely want to know how much they need to achieve relief. Gummies and other edibles come in measured amounts, but the user has to wait for the digestion process. These new products activate much faster. Plus, with a little experience, consumers can really pinpoint how high they really want to get. Do you want to chill out for an hour before you go to that meeting, or do you plan on spending all day strolling through the forest? Those might call for different levels of high. Sort of like the difference between having a beer at lunch and tying one on with pals and a fifth of scotch.

ALT isn't the only company making this stuff. A Colorado edibles company called Tastebudz recently rolled out ebb, a dissolvable powder containing THC, electrolytes, and vitamin C. It's low in sugar, gluten-free, and vegan for folks with dietary issues.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the prospect of a THC dissolvable,” says Brooks Allman, founder of ebb. “With ebb’s proprietary formulations, we offer fast-acting products that are perfect for both entry-level cannabis consumers who might be intimidated by the idea of dosing edibles, as well as more experienced consumers who are looking for an interactive or innovative way to consume cannabis. ebb can be added to just about anything — smoothies, guac — and it’s perfect for post-workout recovery.”

Another powder, Ripple, from Colorado's Stillwater Brands, offers its soluble THC and CBD in 5-, 10- and 20-milligram packages, as well as instant tea and coffee products. Information on the Stillwater website claims the Ripple effects last about four hours.

There’s a really compelling argument presented by Le Herbe on its website. It claims that out of a 10-mg edible, only 1.5 mg of THC gets into your bloodstream while the other 8.5 mg are excreted. That's weak next to the claim that water-soluble product delivers about 7.8 mg into the blood from a 10-mg package. If that's true, this new stuff delivers a whole lot more bang for your buck. It's also one step closer to getting a handle on how much measurable THC is in your blood. That's significant as the Michigan state legislature pushes controversial legislation that would set a THC blood level for legal intoxication.

Right now, oil rules the roost when it comes to cannabis consumables. But, as they say, all things must pass. Water-soluble cannabinoids may soon take a chunk out of that dominance. These new products are potentially more diverse than oil in how they are used, and much easier for the common consumer to apply in their lives. You can even put it in a glass of water.

"It's clear with consumption trends leaning in favor of beverages that customers want more than just what's on the dispensary shelves,” says Allman. “Water-soluble edibles allow consumers options — options to make any beverage or snack into the edible of their preference, and we expect this trend to continue.”

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