Cann is shelved at the intersection of two booming trends: sober-curiosity and seltzer. The beverage startup’s flagship product is a low-dose cannabis seltzer that “gets you a little bit high—a very mild sort of light, floaty head feeling that’s engaging and social,” co-founder Jake Bullock told us. Its second beverage, Unspiked, is alcohol-free, intended for anyone who wants to skip the buzz altogether.
We spoke with Bullock and co-founder Luke Anderson about their buzzy drinks.
Are there any myths about cannabis that bug you?
Luke: There are two that really bother me. One is that it’s just for stoners. Despite more states legalizing cannabis and it being more socially accepted, there’s still this difficult first step of going to actually purchase it and incorporate it in your routine that people report makes them feel like they’re doing something illicit. We are trying to package up the product and use flavors and ingredients that are more aligned with what you see in a traditional retail beverage to try to break that down.
And unfortunately, I think hemp rebranding itself as CBD, and then a huge wave of CBD beverages getting sold in grocery stores a few years ago, created this bizarre stereotype that hemp drinks are cannabis beverages. We’re still battling that consumer education burden on both the cannabis and the non-cannabis side, because so many people bought CBD drinks and then subsequently became tired of them.
So, in short, cannabis: It’s not just for stoners, and no, it’s not CBD either.
Do CBD products do something?
Luke: It’s the “something” that is really up for debate. Like spirulina smoothies do “something,” goji berries do “something.” But it’s like, “Will you feel a palpable impact from consuming a CBD beverage?” And Jake and I say no. But also if you take a sugar pill, sometimes you do get a little better, and we have to remember that the placebo effect does work. The power of positive thinking and consuming something often impacts how good you feel.
Become smarter in just 5 minutes
Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Is the seltzer market oversaturated?
Jake: I think that the future of seltzers is going to be in the direction of, “Well, how can we make these actually taste better?” People really liked zero-calorie, but would you have something that was 10 calories if it tasted much better? I think there’s a real opportunity for natural products that don’t use fake, artificial [ingredients].
Do you guys foresee a future where cannabis beverages are sold in regular bars, sports stadiums, etc.?
Luke: Yes, yes! We want to build that future. We think that there are over-the-counter versions of alcohol, like beer and wine, that are more accessible because they are less strong. And for some reason, cannabis, it’s all the same. If it’s 100 milligrams or a concentrated dab, you have the same access to it as you do a two-milligram THC beverage, which is so much less harmful than a beer. We believe that right next to hard kombucha one day, you’ll see Canns.
That’s like the quintessential story where someone’s first and only cannabis experience is when they eat an entire brownie.
Luke: We also talk about the bad pot brownie experience so much, and it is that thing that makes somebody say, “Never again.” But if Everclear were the only way to get alcohol, we would all have bad Everclear experiences and we’d probably be done with alcohol.