Cannabis beverages and aluminum cans have a problematic relationship that could prove costly for licenced producers with drink production lines built for the ubiquitous metal containers. The devil is in the molecular details.
Scientists have determined that liners inside aluminum cans can cause cannabis drinks to lose their potency. That means by the time a pot drink is put in a can, shipped, stored in a warehouse, displayed in a store, and finally consumed, the buzz promised on the label may have diminished or disappeared.
Can manufacturers add the liners to prevent drinks from taking on a metallic taste, to reduce corrosion of the can, and to improve shelf stability. But when pot drinks are under pressure, the liner can attract tiny emulsified droplets of active cannabis ingredients like THC.
Han holds a Ph.D in chemistry from NYU, and has authored two patents in emulsion chemistry. His California-based company works with cannabis-infused beverage makers to develop emulsion solutions to mitigate the effect of can liners leeching away cannabis compounds.
Oil, cannabis or otherwise, does not mix with water. Nanoemulsion helps solve that problem by breaking down oily compounds to a microscopic level so they can be suspended in a drink.
Cannabis beverages that use the technology have a faster effect compared to edibles. They also have high bioavailability, meaning the body will absorb a higher amount of the THC or CBD. However, pot drinks have yet to emerge as a major category, even though they’ve been available in U.S. states with legal recreational cannabis sales for some time.
In Canada, drinks were part of the swath of new “Cannabis 2.0” products authorized for sale last fall. So far, only a limited selection of items like infused tea bags have hit stores.
Canadian market for cannabis-infused beverages will be worth $529 million annually, with one-in-three viewing the category as an alternative to alcohol.” data-reactid=”31″>Deloitte estimates the Canadian market for cannabis-infused beverages will be worth $529 million annually, with one-in-three viewing the category as an alternative to alcohol.
HEIA.AS), shifted its Hi-Fi Hops cannabis drinks from cans to glass bottles.
“Then we thought, let’s get some can liners. Let’s test our emulsions. We had two at the time,” he said. “The loss was horrible.”
BLL), Ardagh Group (ARD) and Gamer Packaging to test solutions.
Han said it’s difficult for the can industry to alter linings to accommodate the relatively small cannabis drinks category, and pot drink producers prefer cans over bottles due to lower costs.
“It’s up to us to find the solution,” he said, admitting some active ingredients will always be absorbed by aluminum cans. “You will always see some percentage of loss. But as long as you can manage this loss and let it plateau, that is the goal.”
WEED.TO)(CGC) has been the most active in the drinks category among Canadian licenced producers, previewing an extensive line of THC and CBD drinks in late October, the vast majority packaged in cans.
abruptly delayed the launch, offering few details.
“In order to deliver products that meet our customer’s high standards we are electing to revise the launch date while we work through the final details,” CEO David Klein stated in a news release.
Klein, a transplanted executive from Constellation, officially began leading the world’s largest cannabis company only days earlier on Jan. 14. The company is expected to provide an update on its beverages when it reports fiscal third quarter 2020 financial results before the markets open on Feb. 14.
“We’re hearing that there is a problem with the can linings. That THC is leaching into the can linings and making shelf stability drop, and a host of other problems,” he said.
TNY.CN)(TNYBF), said he was shocked last fall when he saw photos of Canopy’s hotly anticipated beverage portfolio packaged in cans.
His products are sold in glass bottles.
“When I say there is less cannabis, there is no cannabis left. It’s literally 97 per cent absorption into the can after a few months. Guys are saying they solved that problem. Nobody really has.”
@jefflagerquist.” data-reactid=”68″>Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.