“It’s a mountain of gold, and nobody knows how high it gets.”
Speaking at BevNET Live Summer 2018 in New York City earlier this month, Lauren Rudick, partner at law firm Hiller, PC, used that metaphor to set the scene for the rapidly expanding cannabis-infused beverage market. Yet even as the legalization of medical and adult-use marijuana continues to spread state-by-state across the country, it can be easy to forget that the plant remains classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a wide-ranging discussion, Rudick, along with Erik Knutson, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, spoke to both the enormous opportunities and significant challenges of working with cannabis-infused drinks.
Referencing the “mountain of gold,” Rudick highlighted the strong potential for both psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis drinks and encouraged interested entrepreneurs to become experts and advocates for changing marijuana regulations. She projected that federal laws will change within the next 3-5 years, and noted that both investors and large CPG companies are already showing strong interest in the ingredient.
Knutson, meanwhile, spoke about his own successes and struggles as a cannabis advocate and as the co-founder of CanCore Concepts, the producer of a THC-infused soda called Keef Cola and other beverage products made with cannabis. Though he noted recent legislative setbacks in Colorado, he also said that decreasing production costs, a growing millennial female market, and increasing awareness of medical applications for both THC and non-psychoactive CBD will help the market gather momentum.
“If you can establish yourself as a brand now, you’ll be in a great position when the market opens up,” he said.
For the full interview, click the video above.