What Led to Minnesota's THC Beverage Boom?

Stephen Andrews
11 Jul 2024

One of the most exciting THC beverage markets is not in Canada or in Europe. It’s not even California, Colorado, Florida or Oregon. Surprisingly enough, it’s Minnesota. The fad took off with low-dose, hemp-derived THC drinkables, a year before Minnesota officially launched its legal recreational cannabis market in 2023.

Cannabis drinks became super popular in Minnesota before the Land of 10,000 Lakes even rolled out its legal adult-use marijuana market. 

A combination of factors were at play that helped propel the great demand for infused beverages. Good cannabis legislation, brilliant local entrepreneurs, and perfect timing with the rising trend of THC drinkables nationwide, each contributed to the success of the Minnesota low-potency THC beverage rumble. 

Recreational marijuana went legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1, 2023. It was the 23rd state in the U.S. to reach this milestone following years-spanning efforts from campaigners, and a lot of revisits and adjustments of the legal text in the state House and Senate. 

Hemp-Derived THC Beverages Most Popular Product in Minnesota 

Joints and spliffs are evergreens, but cannabis drinks are a game changer. The interest for hemp-derived THC beverages followed an early success for Minnesota’s legal market. Sales of THC drinkables quickly started hitting $1 million every month, raising $10 million in the first year alone

The demand for infused cannabis drinks quickly attracted big investments and traced the presence of multi-state operators. California-based infused beverage maker Cann arrived in Minnesota just six months after the state legalized marijuana. But the real entrepreneurs proved to be home established companies who saw the opportunity to expand their offer with drinkables. And that just hit so well with locals. 

From the very start, THC beverages became one of the best available cannabis product types in Minnesota. State regulators and lawmakers maintained a legislation which enabled hemp-derived THC products to be sold even in convenience stores. 

THC drinkables are not only available in Minnesota legal cannabis dispensaries, but also in liquor stores, restaurants, supermarkets, and even locations such as hair salons. You can bump on designated shelves with THC drink refreshments in the most unexpected places. Which cannot be said for other high-giving cannabis products. 

Minnesota regulators do not require a license to sell hemp-derived THC products. Hemp legislation from 2018 set the scene for delta-8, delta-9, and similar psychoactive hemp-derived cannabinoids.

The availability of low-dose THC drinkable options has certainly brought in many new customers, especially among senior and nonsmoker groups. Conversely, the interest for cannabis drinks has led to the appearance of many new manufacturers. 

One of Minnesota’s larger independent craft brewers Surly Brewing Co. was quick to jump on the bandwagon. Many others have followed and there are now hundreds of Minnesota-made drink and seltzer brands. If you travel to Minnesota the real deal is first and foremost to explore the local THC beverage scene. Here's a good list of places that can help with that. 

Whether it’s cocktail-inspired seltzers from brands such as Venn, a fruity smoothie from WLD WTR Infusions, or a Blueberry Kush cold brew from Gus Dean Coffee, those into drinkables can try out new tastes and flavors every day. 

Favorable Legislation Helped Minnesota’s Cannabis Drinkables Market

As per the law, hemp-derived THC beverages in Minnesota can only be sold to those of legal age. Retailers must verify that the person buying the spiked drink is 21 and above by showing a valid ID card or other personal document. Furthermore, marketing and advertising of any cannabis product is not permitted in Minnesota, and this applies for THC beverages as well. 

Edibles can contain up to 5 milligrams of hemp-derived THC per serving, or 50 milligrams max per package. Beverages can also contain up to 5 milligrams of hemp-derived THC per serving, or 10 milligrams maximum per package. 

Many Minnesotans had their first experience with THC beverages not by going to a weed dispensary, but finding cannabis drinks on offer at their favorite bars and restaurants. That’s the luxury part of the law. It sort of created a unique culture around hemp-derived THC beverages in Minnesota. 

The foundation for Minnesota’s bustling infused drinkables market was laid in the spring of 2022. It was then that state lawmakers introduced a measure that cleared the way for retail of hemp-derived THC edibles in mainstream outlets. The bill did not enforce strong limits to who can sell. Rather, it gave Minnesotans a chance to sample cannabis in familiar places downtown, including in the Twin Cities area. The enthusiasm was shared among audacious diners out for a drink who were in the mood to take something new and something different. The good experience with low-potency THC drinks also helped lift stigma around the use of cannabis in the state. 

Of course, there were moments that all of this looked shaky. At the start, in 2022, there was little regulatory oversight on what was happening with infused drinks. Industry insiders tell of poor quality drinks. For a moment it was sparkling water where you toss a little bit of THC. But state legislators worked on strengthening the regulations, which ultimately fueled Minnesota THC beverage boom, helping the nascent market reach new heights very quickly very soon. 

Hemp-derived THC beverages also helped elevate other sectors, such as the local beer industry, and it’s been good for Minnesota’s economy overall. Should another state need ideas on how to build genuine interest around certain cannabis products it’s good they take a look at Minnesota, see how they’ve worked things out and follow their example. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- Recreational Use of Cannabis Goes Legal in Minnesota 

How to Make THC-Infused Drinks?

5 Delicious THC-Infused Beverage Recipes You Must Try

Stephen Andrews