Winnipeg-based pot producer Delta 9 Cannabis Inc. has teamed up with the Fort Garry Brewing Company to produce Legal Lager hemp beer, a move the companies see as a step toward the eventual legal edible — or drinkable — cannabis market.
Legal Lager is infused with hemp seed material, however it contains neither cannabis nor any psychoactive ingredients found in cannabis plants. It is 5 per cent alcohol by volume.
While Canada passed the federal Cannabis Act earlier in June, the federal government has stated that regulations for the sale of edible cannabis will be developed within 12 months of legalization; even so, licensed producers and other businesses are already positioning themselves for when that day comes.
Fort Garry and Delta 9 are already developing a non-alcoholic beer infused with cannabinoids, although that product won’t be able to be sold until the companies receive full regulatory approval at both the provincial and federal levels.
"We believe the drinkable market will become a dominant force within the cannabis space," Delta 9’s communications director Gary Symons said. "There are a lot of people who don’t want to smoke looking for another way to consume. This is one of the reasons we’re going down this path."
John Arbuthnot, Delta 9’s CEO, said he hopes to eventually bring to market a product Canadians can consume "around the dinner table," with no alcohol and relatively low amounts of cannabis extract. His company is already licensed to produce the extract, while Fort Garry has begun production on a de-alcoholized beer.
While Delta 9 is one of only two producers in Manitoba licensed for production and retail, there are currently 107 other licensed producers countrywide, with many considering the possibilities of drinkable products.Advertisement
On June 6, the Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd., a licensed producer with operations in Ontario and Quebec, launched a global beverage division aimed at developing cannabis-infused drinks. In 2017, Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona beer, bought a minority stake in Canopy Growth Corp., the largest cannabis producer in Canada; and Province Brands, a Toronto research and development company, filed a provisional patent last summer to create cannabis based beers, and received a $300,000 grant from the Ontario provincial government in May toward that goal.
In Colorado, Keith Villa, the founder and brewmaster of Blue Moon Brewing, left MillerCoors, which owns Blue Moon, earlier this year to start a new beverage company, Ceria, whose aim is to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.
According to a Deloitte report released last week, six out of 10 Canadian cannabis consumers are expected to choose edible products once those options are legal, lending credence to Delta 9 and Fort Garry’s hemp endeavour.
Daniel Geddes, Fort Garry’s head brewer, said the brewery has produced an initial batch of about 6,000 litres, and is excited about the partnership with Delta 9, no matter how far off other beverages may be from production. "It’s a preliminary idea," he said of the lager, which is on shelves at MLCC locations across the province.
Arbuthnot said he expects to launch the cannabis-infused beverage in mid-2019, at which point his company will market and distribute it, so long as it’s legal to do so.
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