The Ontario government has awarded a C$300,000 research grant to Toronto-based Province Brands of Canada to help them develop “the world’s first” beer that is brewed from cannabis. The company will be working on the cannabis beer project with the Loyalist College’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis.
Loyalist College’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis holds a license from Health Canada to research cannabis.
According to Province Brands of Canada, the joint project is going to create a beer that is “highly intoxicating” yet safer and healthier compared to alcohol. The company also contributed $300,000 in cash and in-kind services.
Meanwhile, the $300,000 government grant was administered through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the government body that promotes partnership between industrial companies and the academe in developing commercial products.
Province Brands chief executive Dooma Wendschuh said that this grant will help Province Brands come up with a beer that would hopefully be ready to sell once edible cannabis products are legally allowed. And this is not expected to happen until 2019.
However, the federal government plans to legalize recreational cannabis this summer, and edible cannabis products will be regulated within one year after.
Province Brands is developing cannabis-infused beer with the help of Loyalist College’s professors and students.
According to a spokesperson for the OCE, brewing cannabis beer might be a controversial subject for those who are against marijuana legalization. However, Province Brands’ project has been okayed by a panel of outside experts, both from industry and academia.
OCE spokesperson Andrew Robertson said that the cannabis beer project was able to meet the criteria for funding. These criteria include providing students an opportunity to learn and helping companies develop innovative products. The OCE’s ethical investment policy prohibits the funding of projects that involve gambling, tobacco, porn, and illegal goods and services.
Loyalist College, meanwhile, only considers joint projects with potential industry partners on a case-by-case basis, according to Kari Kramp, biosciences professor in charge of the lab.
Kramp said that the college also collaborated with Ontario craft brewers and hops growers.
The cannabis project will see Province Brands developing the technology needed to brew beer from the marijuana plant.
While some traditionalists still prefer rolling and smoking a joint, industry experts are saying that combustible weed isn’t the way of the future. People have already moved away from cigarettes, and it has been found that smoking weed creates some of the same toxic chemicals.
In Colorado, for instance, sales of dried weed have dropped as consumers are instead buying concentrated cannabis and vape pens, as well as a wide range of edible products. Colorado is the first U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana.
In U.S. states where cannabis is legal, beverages make up a small portion of cannabis sales. However, it is expected that beverages will become a lot more popular as manufacturers improve the technology used to create these beverages, Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton said.
For three years now, Canopy Growth has been working on a cannabis-infused beverage and has teamed up with U.S.-based alcohol distributor Constellation Brands for this. Linton is adamant that they are not creating beer but a new category of beverages.
Linton said he expects drinks to become the major cannabis product category. He also predicts that beverages will take a big chunk out of the sales of traditional beers and spirits.
Moreover, Linton noted that people customarily drink beverages while socializing. They might not be comfortable with a product format they wouldn’t ordinarily consume. For instance, eating cannabis gummy bears isn’t a normal or usual product format you would eat t in a gathering among friends. So, Linton asked, why the need to put up a barrier then ask people to change their behavior?”