A non-alcoholic Pabst Blue Ribbon seltzer infused with THC is now available for sale, NPR reported. The product is aimed at the ever-expanding marijuana market that has made headlines for the last several years. THC and CBD are the main cannabinoids in marijuana.
According to the NPR article, Pabst Labs, run by former Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery employees, is venturing into the recreational marijuana market of retail products. “Cans of lemon seltzer spiked with the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis—and branded with the famous Pabst Blue Ribbon logo—are rolling out in California, in a new sign of the growth of THC-infused drinks,” the article said.
“While a THC seltzer may seem like a niche product, it’s actually part of a larger pattern, where big companies want to learn more about a part of the cannabis market that could see explosive growth in the next few years. The new seltzer is non-alcoholic, but it contains 5mg of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, along with purified water, lemon concentrate, sugar, and other flavors.”
Among the several chemicals in marijuana, the two with the greatest concentration are THC and CBD. Both are carving out a space in the retail health and beverage markets. Most marijuana use has typically been for medicinal purposes.
The group of chemicals found in the cannabis plant are called cannabinoids, and there are a lot of them.
“There are dozens, probably hundreds, of cannabinoids, each with varying properties, and each with potentially different medical uses and potential side effects,” said Dr. Roy Benaroch, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine. “Different strains of cannabis have different amounts of these chemicals, which are also affected by cultivation and processing techniques.
“That’s an important confounder in medical marijuana research and reports—the products, themselves, may be vastly different and may be labeled inconsistently.”
Dr. Benaroch said that the two cannabinoids found in the highest concentration in cannabis are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound, which gets people high when they take marijuana recreationally. CBD, meanwhile, has medicinal properties and is often used to treat seizures, cancer, anxiety, and more.
“While the concentration of THC has increased [since the 1960s], in many marijuana strains the amount of CBD has dropped.”
The Low End of High
One of the reasons marijuana use is so slow entering the medical market is because, like other medicines, it has the potential for side effects.
“Cannabis compounds can contribute to anxiety and paranoia, and have been linked to schizophrenia,” Dr. Benaroch said. “In some people, it increases the risk of seizures, and can cause nausea and loss of appetite. Cannabis compounds, and not just THC, affect cognition and memory, and may have especially worrisome long-term effects when used by children and teens whose brains are still developing.”
However, Dr. Benaroch noted that this doesn’t mean cannabis should be disqualified as treatment. He said that all real medicines also carry the potential for side effects, and some of them are “more serious or more common” than the ones associated with cannabis.
“What it does mean, though, is that cannabis is really just like any other drug. It may have some uses, and some important benefits for some people, but those have to be weighed against potential side effects, as we’d do with any other drug.”
Dr. Roy Benaroch is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine. He earned his BS in Engineering at Tulane University, followed by his MD at Emory University.