More than 50 beverage brands, cannabinoid producers, testing laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and consulting agencies have created the Hemp Beverage Alliance, a trade association to create a safe, consumer-friendly, and thriving hemp beverage industry.
“Hemp-derived, low-dose cannabis beverages are booming across the country,” Christopher Lackner, executive director, Hemp Beverage Alliance, said. “Now is the time to bring the industry together to develop strong standards, educate consumers and retailers, and work with state and federal regulators to create a safe and vibrant marketplace for these products.”
The Hemp Beverage Alliance is calling for standardization and smart regulation of the industry.
- Safety: The safety of the consumer is paramount and should be the driving force in the industry.
- Age Limit: Hemp beverages are adult beverages and should be labeled and sold accordingly.
- Serving Size: Cannabinoid levels should be safe, effective, and provide value to the consumer.
- Labeling: Clear labeling is necessary to empower the consumer and build credibility for the industry.
- Regulatory Clarity: Regulations are necessary and should be thoughtful, concise, and support consumer safety and industry growth.
- Marketplace Consistency: In lieu of federal action, state governments should work together to develop guidelines that are consistent across state lines.
“Adult consumers are demanding better options to alcohol. They want drinks that are fun, safe, and more easily accessible. We believe low-dose hemp beverages have a place on shelves in conventional retail establishments, subject to similar age restrictions and taxation as alcohol,” David Knight, CEO of Jones Soda, which owns Mary Jones cannabis and hemp beverages, said.
Education is Critical to Industry Success
The Hemp Beverage Alliance is developing materials and programming to educate consumers, retailers, and distributors about the products, current regulatory patchwork, and best practices employed by Alliance members.
“This is a brand new industry, and with that comes confusing and sometimes conflicting information about the products and where they can be sold,” Paige Endsley, research and development lead for Living Juice and chairwoman of the Alliance’s education committee, said. “The Hemp Beverage Alliance is committed to educating consumers and retailers on what these drinks are, how they work, and how and where they should be sold.”
A Plant Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
The Hemp Beverage Alliance will work with cannabis companies, brands, and trade associations to create a better understanding of how both industries can thrive.
One only needs to look at the alcohol industry to see a model for success. In states across the country, beer is sold in grocery stores while spirits are sold in liquor stores. The Hemp Beverage Alliance suggests a similar model: low-dose, hemp-derived THC beverages in conventional retail and higher-dose THC products available in dispensaries.
“A plant divided against itself cannot stand. It is only by working together that we can normalize responsible consumption and create a safe, sustainable marketplace for all cannabis products,” Lackner said.
Fair Access Beverage Environments
The Hemp Beverage Alliance envisions a future where safe, low-dose, hemp-derived THC products are available in restaurants, concerts, and other places where alcohol currently is the only option. The state of Minnesota is an excellent example of how this future will look.
“We commend Minnesota for creating smart legislation that encourages the production of safe, low-dose hemp products,” Jason Dayton, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Trail Magic and Alliance member, said. “We hope other states will use this model as their North Star in developing similar legislation.”