Come Friday, November 18, a new low-dose, cannabis-infused seltzer will be hitting dispensaries throughout Michigan, promising a chill, refreshing way to enjoy THC. Highly Casual is the first line of weed beverages to come from Emerald Canning Partners — a partnership with the folks behind the growing Pleasantrees dispensary chain and Andrew Blake (who happens to be the founder of Blake’s Hard Cider Company).
Available in three flavors — strawberry and watermelon, blueberry and pineapple, and lemon and lime — the lightly carbonated, gluten-free beverage contains just two milligrams of THC, promising a subtle high, ideal for folks who may be curious about the growing options for experiencing cannabis, but have been wary of giving it a try.
Matthew Skarb, director of operations for Pleasantrees, tells Eater that in order to attract that crowd, it was important to come up with a formula that doesn’t leave users with that earthy aftertaste frequently associated with edible cannabis products. He went on to explain that this is achieved through a process called nano-encapsulation, which involves stripping the beverage of that unappealing THC flavor. For those who recall the pitfalls of the early days of hard lemonades and seltzers and are concerned with small children getting their hands on mom’s weed drink, Highly Casual’s slender 12-ounce cans come equipped with plastic safety lids.
“We tried and went after that that seltzer flavor feel that everybody loves, the Truly, White Claw, High Noon,” Skarb says. “You really just don’t pick up the THC flavor in there. It’s like drinking a soda or seltzer. We wanted to make this easy for people that don’t segment into the cannabis world, normally. This is more of an easier ingress for them.”
To start, four packs of Highly Casual will be available for $18 at 23 dispensaries in metro Detroit and elsewhere throughout the lower peninsula. More flavors and beverage options are also in the works, including 16-ounce cans of iced tea.
Pleasantrees founder and CEO Randy Buchman says that partnering with Blake made perfect sense for the cannabis company’s entry into making beverages. Rather than having to learn the intricacies of running a beverage production line, he turned to experts already well-versed in that industry.
“I was relieved I didn’t need to learn a new trick,” says Buchman. “I saw there was a huge opportunity in the beverage space right now.
“Blake added everything that we needed to go to launch a brand production facility. I think we’ve got a recipe for success,” he adds.