“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate,” William Shakespeare once wrote in Sonnet 18. While he was expressing his desire for a woman, the poetry makes me think of a cannabis drink I recently tried and had big feelings for. Hear me out.
Generally speaking, I have conflicted feelings about cannabis drinks. That’s not a knock on the product category on its face — in the last year, in particular, cannabis drinks have become a force of their own in the legal cannabis market, growing into a popular way for people to imbibe, especially those who are not keen on smoking. In that time, cannabis-infused beverages have also significantly increased in quality, thanks to advancements in emulsion technology. No longer are they stratified cocktails with a layer of oil sitting on the top. These days, the science has been narrowed down, the molecules shrunken. When drinking one of the many cannabis drinks on the market today, one could be forgiven for not even noticing there was cannabis in it at all, flavor-wise.
Where my skepticism comes in is the actual popularity of these drinks. I have written elsewhere, particularly on this website, that I’m a flower gal — smoking actual weed is far and away my favorite way to consume cannabis. That said, I’m a regular partaker of almost every ingestion method under the sun, which includes cannabis-infused drinks from time to time. But even though I enjoy them, I will admit that I struggle to find out where the drinks fit in my routine.
Edibles, particularly gummies, are easy for me — I pop one, chew a few times, and I’m on my way, usually to my bed or couch to watch a movie. Smoking precedes just about everything for me, including social activities, while dabbing is something I reserve for particularly taxing days when I just want to shut off completely. The drinks are harder to place in my mind because they are marketed as a social product, often as an alcohol replacement. While that is certainly true for some people, the fact is that, for many, ingesting weed is not the most social activity. Edibles and drinkables heighten all my senses, yes, but they also help me turn inward and focus more on my own thoughts and feelings in my body, rather than engaging with anyone else. I prefer the quick pop-in-my-mouth, sit back, and relax fix that a gummy offers rather than the slow sipping of a drink. In my mind, there are other, better ways to enjoy a beverage, especially drinks with more socially-minded intoxicants in them.
I know I’m not alone in that conundrum, but out in the wider world, the numbers tell a different story. Cannabis consumer data company Headset claims that current 2021 sales for cannabis-infused beverages total $123.9 million, compared with the sales in the same category in 2020, which clocked in at $79.3 million. That’s a year-over-year sales increase of 56.2%. Clearly, the appeal of these drinks is catching on.
Which is all context to write this: Last week, I finally found a cannabis beverage that made me truly, genuinely get it. Cann, which is the largest purveyor of cannabis drinks in California, recently debuted a new drink in partnership with pop star Tove Lo, who is also an investor in Cann. The drink is exclusive to dispensaries Sweet Flower and Airfield Supply Co. Called “Passion Peach Mate,” which leaves little to the imagination, it’s exactly that: a carbonated, naturally caffeinated, cannabis-infused peach-flavored drink.
It’s absolutely perfect. It’s also the first to market for caffeinated cannabis beverages.
Infused with five milligrams of THC, the 12-ounce canned drink offers a lower dose option that is perfect for nighttime socializing, owing to the caffeine, or daytime drinking, also owing to the caffeine. That, in my mind, makes Cann & Tove Lo’s Passion Peach Mate” the tour de force that it is.
My first thought when holding the marquee-bright yellow and pink can in my hands was, “Wait, how did they legally combine THC and caffeine?” As an older millennial, I am a veteran of the unregulated Four Loko days. I asked a friend, who tipped me off to the fact that it was because the caffeine came from mate, a caffeine-rich drink made with dried holly leaves from South America. In California, it’s okay to combine THC with naturally-derived caffeine, it turns out.
The result is, basically, a fully enmeshed version of the hallowed stoner tradition, “wake and bake,” which involves someone smoking weed first thing in the morning, often while drinking coffee. The body high and head change from smoking weed balances the jolts and jitters from caffeine. For many, it is a really comfortable and fun state to be in. Four Loko capitalized on those good vibes and turned them up to 11, which proved to be too high-octane in the end, especially for regulators, who eventually put strict alcohol and caffeine limits on drinks that contained both.
The Passion Peach Mate high and buzz never approaches anything resembling the intensity of a Four Loko bender. It’s much more mellow on both fronts and gives the drinker a euphoric altered state. It’s this gorgeous mind-and-body feeling that reminds me of Shakespeare’s sonnet — drinking the Passion Peach Mate is like tasting a summer day in a can. It also goes down much smoother and is more delicious than other options, on top of it.
Taste-wise, it’s lightly carbonated, and the bitterness that usually accompanies mate, which I generally enjoy, is instead replaced by a not-too-sweet peach flavor. It’s delicious and, unlike many alcoholic beverages or other cannabis-infused drinks, easy to drink to the very end. The flavor isn’t too overpowering, tastes nothing of weed, and is not something the drinker will get sick of.
Case in point: I had three in one sitting!
Crucially, it is also infused using nanoemulsion technology which makes smaller THC molecules so they are absorbed into the bloodstream faster and with more of its bioavailability intact. This means it hits faster but it also fades faster, in some ways mimicking the onset times for alcohol. It costs $20 for a pack of four, which is priced similarly craft beers or canned cocktails.
The bad news is that, at present, it’s a limited release through just Sweet Flower and Airfield Supply Co. I can’t even order it from my home in San Diego, which upsets me. If you’re reading this, anyone at Cann, consider this my plea for your company to make the Passion Peach Mate a regular in your cannabis-infused drinks line-up. You have a winner on your hands.