Canna-beer is here

Legal weed is still a new phenomenon, and because it’s not yet national it still has a mystique that makes pairing suds and buds a seemingly forbidden pleasure. While Boston Beer and distiller Brown-Forman have warned in their SEC filings for years that legalization is a threat to alcoholic beverages because of the so-called substitution effect, there have been brewers that have been offering a happy mix from the beginning.

In Colorado, where marijuana has been legal longest, Dad & Dude’s Breweria has been successfully selling a cannabis-infused beer for years, and Oregon’s Coalition Brewing has introduced several varieties of beer made with cannabidiol (CBD). Similarly, Heineken‘s Lagunitas introduced its SuperCritical limited edition ale made with terpenes, which is responsible for the cannabis plant’s unique aroma and flavor, while Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing made a limited run IPA-like beer made with cannabis compounds.

Although these beers were popular when introduced and enjoy a cult-like following, it’s only because of their newness and the heightened attention to legal weed that they got off the ground. Marijuana is now attracting the big guns of the business, like Anheuser-Busch, which paid $50 million to partner with TilrayConstellation Brands, which initially bought a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth early last year for $190 million and then added another $4 billion investment later in the year; and Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP), which is forming a joint venture with Hydropothecary (NASDAQOTH:HYYDF), in which the brewer will have the controlling interest as it pursues cannabis-infused beverages.

Dude’s Brews, the packaged-beer arm of Colorado-based Dad & Dude’s Breweria, will launch is Canna-Beer series in the autumn, debuting at the Great American Beer Festival in September, featuring a range of “CBD-rich, cannabis-infused” beers.

The line of beers will be heavily dosed with cannabidoil – also known as CBD – a substance extracted from the cannabis plant and which is known for its “non-psychoactive health benefits”, including stress relief.

Although marijuana-infused beer appears to be another publicity stunt that will eventually fade away to become a niche product, this time brewers are paying tens of millions of dollars — sometimes hundreds of millions — for the privilege.