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Culture » Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals 12/2-12/9

The Emerging Canna-Coffee Market

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Some people call it the "Northwest Speed Ball," but my group of friends calls it the "Hippie High Ball." Whatever you call it, people in the Northwest have been mixing coffee and cannabis since the 1960s. For many people, the combination of the coffee high and the cannabis mellow creates the perfect mental state for relaxing and focusing on the task at hand, whatever it may be.

The effect of consuming both drugs simultaneously is synergistic. Caffeine is absorbed by the body immediately, but cannabis takes considerably longer (30-90 minutes). According to experts, cannabis can prolong the caffeine high.

With the war on cannabis use ending, many of the best ideas for combining coffee and cannabis are—like many other things—coming out of the closet. Cannabis legalization has allowed coffee-cannabis consumer products to emerge. These products have the potential to change the way both drugs are consumed. With the coffee market in America at over $9 billion and the legal cannabis market at $3 billion, the potential for the canna-coffee market seems to be significant.

An early leader in coffee-cannabis products is Mirth Provisions, which was created by entrepreneur Adam Stites. Mirth makes a line of potable cannabis products named "Legal." One such drink is cold-brewed coffee infused with 20 milligrams of THC. For now, Legal is available only in Washington.

Fairwinds Manufacturing is another canna-coffee maker. Fairwinds produces Catapult, which is a pouch of ground coffee beans infused with cannabis oils. The pouch is designed to fit a Keurig-like coffee machine. For now, Catapult is also available only in Washington.

In California, House of Jane makes prepackaged pouches of canna-coffee for sale in medical dispensaries. Also in California, canna-coffee has entered the high-end market. The L.A. company Compelling and Rich passes vaporized cannabis over green coffee beans before roasting. The resulting coffee has a distinctive cannabis taste, but does not get the drinker high.

But that limitation is driven only by the current legal situation. If on-site cannabis consumption were legal, canna-coffee could be made to order like any other coffee drink.

In Alaska, the Marijuana Control Board recently voted to allow on-site cannabis consumption at cannabis retailers. This makes Alaska the first state to allow on-site consumption and paves the way for canna-coffee shops. Given that Alaska has some great coffee bars and is legendary for its strong coffee and prolific coffee consumption, it seems fitting that the Last Frontier should be the first frontier for canna-coffee.

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