From coffee to cocktails, there are a couple basic principles to master so you can make your own cannabis beverages.
By Andrew Ward • May 10, 2019
If you're not into smoking joints or bongs, edibles are another popular way to consume cannabis — and that includes infused beverages.
Commercially produced cannabis drinks will soon be legal in Canada, and some legal stores in the United States already sell THC and CBD-infused beverages from water and teas to soda.
There are bars dedicated to creating infused menus, conceiving “mocktails” where CBD is used in place of alcohol. Coffee shops in several states have also embraced the CBD-infused trend.
For now, there are a few ways to infuse your own drinks at home. A lot of it comes down to remembering the basics.
Cannabis oil-infused drinks
Cannabis oils are a popular and easy enough way to dose a beverage. While it may seem as simple as dropping the oil into a drink, that isn't exactly the case.
Because many drinks are water-based, the oil won't infuse — it floats to the top of a beverage, because water and oil don't mix.
This can serve as a benefit for cocktail creators and others looking to show off their oil. In this case, they can demonstrate the oil in the glass while allowing its aromas to hit consumers’ noses first.
For other beverages, this may not be the intended goal of a cannabis infusion. Coffee, for example, is already aromatic enough, and would benefit more by having the CBD in each sip of the drink.
Those making cannabis-infused beverages should consider using water-soluble drops. Water-compatible options allow for cannabis to mix with the drink instead of having an oily float at the top.
Water-soluble drops allow cannabis to be infused with water-based drinks thanks to several specially formulated methods. Three formulation classes can be used to create water-soluble cannabis drops: microemulsions, liposomes and nanoemulsions.
Chris Cooper owns Black Medicine Iced Coffee, which manufactures beverages and co-packs CBD beverages in Oakland, Calif. He also owns a CBD brand called Lucent Botanicals. He explained the importance of water-soluble cannabis drops in coffee.
“CBD, not being water soluble, cannot be incorporated in beverages without fats or oils,” he says. “For our straight iced coffee, we must use a water-soluble CBD.”
He added that drinks with other bases allow for other types of CBD to be used. However, it comes with a risk.
“But for a drink with dairy, for example, we can use the straight CBD, whether isolate or distillate. If we do a mocha with CBD, the CBD does not have to be emulsified, but there is also no chance that it will be shelf stable.”
Cooper says it's not a problem if the beverage is shipped, stored, and sold refrigerated.
“But if you want to do a coffee or a tea with no fats added, you will need to use a nanoemulsion.”
Consider the beverage base
While the wrong choice won’t ruin your consumption experience, an improperly infused drink can lessen the enjoyment. Depending on the beverage, oil or water-soluble drops may prove to be the best option to infuse the cannabis with the drink. As such, always consider the beverage's base.