Okay, I was wrong.
As regular readers of this site know, I am a non-believer in cannabis-infused beverages. I did not understand how developed markets like California and Colorado, who have had cannabis beverages for years now, only see it making up 1% of their dispensary sales. If cannabis-infused beverages were the next beer or wine, why aren’t we seeing it already in developed markets?
Then, I got to try the new 5mg THC hard seltzer from LEVIA in Massachusetts.
LEVIA launched recently in Massachusetts with a plethora of dispensaries supporting the brand and I can see why, now. The hard seltzers taste just like a hard seltzer you would buy at any store, no strange weed taste or pungent after-taste where you say, “Oh, there it is, there is the marijuana part.”
The first thing I noticed, and never even thought of, how do you kid-proof a can? Take a look at how the top of the can is child safe, pretty creative for sure.
LEVIA comes in 3 flavors or categories. Achieve, a sativa blend, Celebrate is a hybrid blend, and Dream, an indica blended infused drink. At 5mg I was curious about the effects, and sure enough, after trying each flavor, the THC kicks in within 20 minutes of drinking it. I got to ask a few questions after the product trial to Levia, and I was curious as to why 5mg and not a “standard dosage” of 10mg was in each can? You can read their answer below in the interview section, but I figured it out myself. Drinking is a social affair in our society, people tend to gather and have more than one drink at a setting or sitting. Hence, a controllable 5mg dosage makes sense because you will probably be drinking 2 or 3 cans at a time over a period of time, or just socializing.
Think about this, if you have a 10mg dosage in one can, you would be “edible high” in about 20 minutes and may not be able to socialize anymore, or have another can in 45 minutes. Think making a rum and coke with regular rum, and then making them with 150 proof rum, there is a reason they don’t use the 150 proof rum in standard drinks.
The drink was delicious, and a few other taste tasters agreed, a wonderful tasting hard seltzer that tastes like hard seltzers currently available on the market. No calories is a nice bonus, no added sugar, thumbs up, and just THC and natural ingredients.
The drinks gave a very nice “buzz” or “elevated” feeling after just 20 minutes, but not overwhelming like some edibles you may have ingested in the past. Better to go slower and ramp up then the other way around with some dosages of edibles. Served chilled or over ice? You bet, mixing the seltzer with some ice creates a bubbly, refreshing drink!
The retail price was my one sticking point in general with cannabis beverages. LEVIA currently retails at $ 7 a can (5mg THC) and with local and state taxes, you are looking at close to $ 8.50 a can. When compared for “desired affect” to alcohol it is a bargain and competitive, for example, two hard drinks costing $ 6 or $ 7 each is comparable, throw in a slight premium for cannabis, and it is fair fight. Regular cannabis users will notice the price per gram compared to other edibles is extremely high. I got to ask LEVIA about the price point worries and how they are going to handle that in the future. Read the interview section at the end!
Apples to apples for THC and milligram dosages, the liquid drink is much more expensive then say a chocolate bar or gummy bear where a 10mg dose may coast you $ 1 or $ 2. Apples to oranges, comparing the THC hard seltzer to a alcohol hard seltzer, it is at a competitive price and has the appeal of no calories, no sugar, and a nice high without the alcohol hangover. That has to be worth 10% more in this world, so we will call it a win.
It isn’t a win on the price point compared to other cannabis products, but this is where I was wrong in the past. Drinking is a social activity, at least pre-COVID, and it is not just about consuming the drink as fast as possible and getting to the “promised land”. People don’t gather over 90 minutes and eat a small chocolate or gummy together in an hour and a half. That experience takes 1 second and it is over, then you just wait for the effects. Drinking and sipping a drink is an art, it is friendship, it is lasting, and that is where I was wrong and cannabis beverages are right. You need an experience that takes 90 minutes to get to the “promised land”, and you want to take it slow and steady. In alcohol terms, it’s like having two glasses of wine at a friend’s house or having a few beers at a backyard BBQ. You do not want to just pound the drinks like a college drinking game, you want them to last, there is another level of socializing involved with drinking something that you just don’t get by popping a chocolate or gummy in your mouth.
Cannabis beverages are going to be a big thing, a real big thing. The social aspect of drinking in general, combine with the healthy benefits of cannabinoids like THC, will lead millions to switch to a nice refreshing blend of cannabinoids as opposed to body and brain damaging alcohol. LEVIA should be proud of the product they created, as a pioneer and also having the perseverance to see the product through from first ideas to a wonderful finished can.
I highly recommend you grab a 4-pack and try LEVIA for yourself, click here for current locations!
It takes a big man to admit when he was wrong, that he did not see the full market picture in relation to the social and human experience of drinking liquids with groups of people.
Thank you for showing me the light, LEVIA.
After trying LEVIA over a week, I followed up with the following thoughts and LEVIA was kind enough to respond. Hopefully, this will answer some of the same questions you would have after trying a few cans.
1. Are they all THC only, no other cannabinoids, no CBD or CBG for example? Is that due to regulation, choice, or the science behind how they are made?
We use full spectrum CO2 oil in all of our beverages, providing an entourage effect. To help expedite the first batch of seltzer, we partnered with Michele Andolina, Senior Director of Wholesale at Revolutionary Clinics and the rest of their team to use its full spectrum CO2 oil. Moving forward, we will be extracting in-house and rely solely on flower partners Like Natures Heritage and Garden Remedies to supply some incredible strains. We then blend those strains in order to capture the desired effect.
2. How long has LEVIA worked on this idea and how long did it take to get a good-tasting, regulation approved product?
The crystal clear LEVIA seltzer that we introduced to the Massachusetts market is the result of 3 years of research and development. We started with a cloudy, undesired seltzer with a bitter cannabis aftertaste. We continued to perfect through many rounds of trial & error until we created a clear, great-tasting beverage that we were proud to release this month (February 2021).
3. The price point is very favorable for the desired effect compared to alcohol, but apples to apples, it is expensive when comparing it to other edibles. Does LEVIA see costs coming down in the future with new technology and legalization?
We believe our consumers are not basing their purchase behavior on a price per milligram. We’re hopeful we are able to offer our beverages at a lower cost in the future, but quality and taste are our utmost priority. The grade-A flower that we source now is the highest of quality and that is associated with a higher cost. With Massachusetts flower prices being some of the highest in the country, we will be able to decrease our price as the wholesale flower market decreases as well.
4. Are there plans for other versions that are not seltzer based? For example, what if hard seltzer had their run much like wine coolers did, what other drinks are LEVIA working on for the future?
We have a few research and development projects in the works that we expect to roll out throughout 2021. Our next product to enter the Massachusetts market will be a water-soluble Tincture that can be added to your favorite beverage without compromising the taste!
5. Why 5mg and not 10mg? I am guessing regulation and also the fact most people like to drink two or three drinks in a social setting and not just one?
Recently, Massachusetts raised the maximum single serve dose to 5.5mg. We played with 2mg- 5mg and decided the 5mg dosage created the best experience for our consumers. It is an approachable dose for new consumers as well as a dosage that is sensational for the more experienced consumer.
6. Is Kris Krane and 4Front ventures backing them, he owns the Georgetown dispensary?
No, we do have any ventures invested through Kris Krane and 4front. We are a bootstrapped operation that raised $ 4.25M of private capital through friends/family and a handful of local family offices. 4Front owns and operates Mission Dispensaries, a dispensary located down the street from our facility, they are one of our clients.