UBC Okanagan professor researching cannabis drinks for the mass market

Now that recreational cannabis is legal, a Kelowna company called Pacific Rim Brands believes pot-infused beverages is a concept it can eventually capitalize on.

It’s working with researchers, including UBC Okanagan professor Susan Murch, to bring marijuana beverages to a mass market.

The aim of the research is to develop formulas for cannabis-infused beverages that can either be licensed to other companies or that Pacific Rim Brands can use to develop its own brands and products.

“We are looking at three quadrants right now: health and wellness, an example of that would be a sleep aid; sports nutrient, examples of that would be for inflammation, anxiety, pain using CBD; the obvious one is the recreational side that would compete against alcohol,” said Kevin Letun, founder of Pacific Rim Brands.

Letun said the research is focusing on making sure the beverages can have an extended shelf life and dosages will be accurate if the drink is mass produced.

Murch pointed out that drinking cannabis is not a new concept.

“We have traditional knowledge of using cannabis in beer-making that goes back at least 3,000 years,” she said.

The scientific challenge for Murch and her research partner at BCIT is how to best bring cannabis drinks to a mass market.

“Getting branded products on Canadian store shelves means we have to think about things like quality, safety, stability and shelf life,” Murch said.

The drinks likely won’t taste like a joint.

“A really cool thing about cannabis is it has a whole class of terpene molecules and those give different flavours. Some cannabis tastes kind of fruity and floral… and some is more skunky,” Murch said.

“Certainly in the formulation of beverages, it is going to be very important to get the flavour profile right.”

Cannabis beverages won’t be on store shelves right away. Selling cannabis edibles, including drinks, is not expected to be legal in Canada until late next year at the earliest.

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