Floridians have had a lot to celebrate recently when it comes to cannabis culture. The state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana was lifted this week, and other limits on regional dispensary locations have likewise been challenged. Those looking to toast to a cannabis-filled future are also looking at a cup that’s half full — Ybor City’s Fat Dog Distillery has announced the launch of the company’s hemp-infused gin and vodka, Nirvana Spirits.
An important note: those who are not up on their weed terminology may be a bit thrown off by Nirvana’s vague marketing language, which centers on its “cannabis-infused” products. Though technically correct, it is so vague as to be misleading. Make no mistake, these are non-psychoactive hemp-based products with no marijuana in them and very low levels of THC. Hemp products tend to have less than a .5 percent concentration of the trippier cannabinoid.
The floodgates to hemp products have been opened up with the passage late last year of the new US Farm Bill, which amended the Controlled Substances Act to omit the ban of hemp production and research. Florida is on the brink of passing legislation that would legalize hemp agriculture, as well as establish hemp pilot programs at institutions of higher education.
The Nirvana campaign takes on a recent Wall Street Journal article that held that cannabis beverages, for all the commercial speculation surrounding them, actually don’t taste that great. “This is simply not true with our product,” CEO of Fat Dog Spirits Dr. Rama Ramcharran told ABC Action News. “I challenge anyone to try it and tell me that it tastes like oil or a ‘barnyard’!”
The gin-making doctor did throw his cannabis drink selling peers, however, under the bus — ABC reports that he thinks the WSJ article “is generally correct in its assertions,” just that they don’t apply to Nirvana products.
One may ask why you would make a cannabis alcohol that is not psychoactive and aims to have little perceptible cannabis taste. Nirvana’s website is somewhat foggy on the reasoning behind the consumer products, but states that, “In June 2016, Dr. Ram Ramcharran had a vision. He wanted to create a craft vodka that tasted great and used the best natural ingredient on earth — cannabis.”
But Fat Dog Distillery is far from the only producer looking to cash in on the hype surrounding cannabis bevvies. A short round-up of major corporations that have announced their interest in developing cannabis products include: Molson Coors, who paired with Canadian cannabis company Hexo Corp last year and Coca-Cola, who entered “serious talks” with Aurora cannabis in September. Anheuser-Busch InBev has signed a $100 million partnership with Tilray, Inc as well.
Analysts have forecasted that Starbucks may be the first major chain to hawk CBD drinks, which are already banned by the New York City Health Department in its wariness over potential FDA non-compliance. Smaller producers are already experimenting with surprising new drink-canna-combos — House of Saka’s non-alcoholic sparkling rosé provides a three-to-one THC/CBD blend that kicks off in five to 10 milligram glass doses.