Fact Sheet

Forget Four Loko: The rise of marijuana soda

A California entrepeneur has plans to launch a new THC-laced cola this year. Can soda pot compete with soda pop?

As medical marijuana dispensaries have become commonplace in California, entrepreneurs looking to break into the legalized pot business are seeking distinctive products. One current example: Canna Cola, a new soft drink that contains THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot. The idea's not new — a similar beverage called "Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda" hit L.A. a year ago — but Canna Cola's creator, Clay Butler, believes that his drink will gain wider popularity thanks to superior flavors and his "branding savvy" (he's especially proud of the label, which features a pot leaf composed of bubbles). Will weed in a can succeed this time around? (Watch a CNN report about the beverage)

What is the soda like?
A 12-ounce can will sell for $10 to $15 and contain between 35 to 65 milligrams of THC — less than existing rival drinks. Consumers will be able to choose from five flavors: The flagship Canna Cola, the lemon-lime infused Sour Diesel, the Dr. Pepper-inspired Doc Weed, and the self-explanatory Grape Ape and Orange Kush. As for the mouthfeel, distributor Scott Ridell tells the Santa Cruz Sentinel that Canna Cola has a "mild marijuana taste," without the aftertaste he believes taints sodas that contain more THC.

Who is behind this?
Clay Butler, a Santa Cruz entrepreneur and commercial artist, who claims he has never tried marijuana and has only consumed two beers in his life. Still the abstemious Butler says he's "a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose to do so. It's your life; it's your body." Butler hopes that marijuana is decriminalized, and that THC soda becomes nationally popular, in which case, "I think the market [will go] to the early pioneers."

Where and when will the drinks be available?
Though "marijuana-friendly Colorado" will likely get Canna Cola first (starting in February), Butler and partners hope to hit the California market by this spring, assuming they can overcome various legal roadblocks. A bill known as "Brownie Law SB 258" that's currently working its way through California's state house would "double the penalties for anyone who produces a product that combines marijuana with 'a candy product' or markets it to minors," posing a threat to all "medibles," or food products containing THC. It's unclear whether the proposed law would affect Canna Cola.

Sources: Santa Cruz Sentinel, Death and Taxes, Huffington Post, Fox News

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