Will Weed Ever Be as Socially Acceptable as Booze?

Are cannabis beverages the answer to weed stigma at parties and gatherings?
Are cannabis beverages the answer to weed stigma at parties and gatherings? /

It won’t be long, and we’ll all be in hell. 

The holiday season is upon us, and unless you’ve been banished from society for acting out a wild serial killer fantasy on Halloween, you’ll be forced to participate. 

Mandatory gatherings with family, friends, and co-workers that, no matter how many excuses we can make for not showing up with a smile on our faces, there is no escaping. 

Mom’s going to want us at Aunt Sue’s. Dad wants to see us at Uncle Carl’s. The old high school crew is having another reunion. And the new girlfriend wants us to meet her entire family on both sides. 

To make matters worse, our boss, that dopey bastard, has recruited us as his karaoke partner at this year’s company soiree. I mean, let’s face it, we’re freaking doomed. This is precisely why booze has become an American staple. We can’t be expected to do this shit sober.

But some people prefer weed over whiskey and wine.

Getting Stoned in a World of Drinkers

Unfortunately, while alcohol is a standard at most holiday parties, cannabis is not. The herb just doesn’t have the socially acceptable status as liquid libations. 

Make no mistake about it, pot consumers, even in legal states, will be forced to duck out back to smoke a joint or take a pull off a vape pen this holiday season, while everyone else drinks beer, sips wine and takes shots off the stomach of the office intern. 

The prospect of getting stoned gets even more complex when sitting around grandma’s house all day waiting for the turkey to get done. While she may be fine with some whiskey drinking, she’s not going to be too keen when someone pulls out a bong.

The biggest obstacle that cannabis faces, aside from decades of prohibition and butt-loads of drug war propaganda, is that smoking is being phased out across America. Joints and pipes are never going to be embraced in social situations like a mug of beer. Most places don’t even allow smoking anymore, and many don’t want weed in their establishment no matter what. 

Cannabis Beverage, Anyone?

The cannabis industry recognized this challenge years ago and have attempted to create some socially acceptable pot products. THC-infused beverages were their biggest bet. Nearly every beverage company from the makers of Modelo to Budweiser was at least exploring the concept of drinks that get the user high. Some have bowed out since then, while others are still running with it. 

Still, smoking remains a favorite among the cannabis culture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“I still prefer smoking to using any of those kinds of products,” Lance from San Diego, California told The Bluntness.

A recent article from the New York Times, however, suggests that the negative attitude toward socially acceptable pot products is changing. Pulling data from BDSA, a market research firm in Colorado that specializes in legal cannabis, the article shows that sales on marijuana beverages have increased by around 65 percent over the past year in the 12 states they track. 

In California, the largest legal cannabis market in the United States, the number of cannabis beverages has nearly doubled since 2020, according to Headset. No doubt, consumers were definitely skeptical about these products at first – and many still are, let’s get that right – but they are adjusting to this new method of consumption. 

These are presumably the people who’ve been consuming edibles before a party, but soon realized that it’s not as fun to show up stoned than it is to progressively get there throughout the night. You know, being social with it.  

That’s the benefit booze offers, and that cannabis wants to follow. Still, that doesn’t mean the consumer is totally happy with weed in beverage form. Some say they enjoy the buzz, but the price is a deterrent. Many don’t like the flavor. “I’ve tried a bunch of them, and they all taste like ass,” said Emanuel from Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Meanwhile, some argue that cannabis beverages are far too potent to be social…at least for long. 

“It can be a knock-out punch to people who are not daily consumers,” Ryan from Colorado asserts, adding that a weed drink ended his special evening way too early. “We started out my bachelor's party in 2017 with a round of Elixirs and I lost half my crew for half the trip due to one little beverage each.”

In the past few years, cannabis beverages have matured, so they feel less like a novelty than when they were first introduced to the scene. It also has great crossover appeal. Companies like Lagunitas, Pabst and Jones Soda have entered the adult-use market. Overall, consumer recognition and trust has risen in this category. Industry experts say alternatives to smoking, like cannabis beverages, are catching on and could be what helps cannabis reach its socially acceptability.

“On-site use will need to develop further as that’s a huge part of how people are used to consuming alcohol – in public and with friends,” Luke Frances, Director of Business Development at HERBL, tells The Bluntness

The company is a leading supply chain for the cannabis industry in California and Nevada. “Accessibility at lounges, but especially at events, like festivals and concerts, in a form like beverages, should start to shift how people think of consuming and experiencing cannabis socially and actively,” he said. “At the end of the day access and availability will help drive acceptance and adoption, it’s just going to take some more time.”

Consumer opinions differ on exactly how long it will take. There are, of course, those who don’t think it will ever happen. “Our government will never fully legalize weed,” complains Justin from Little Rock, Arkansas. “Unfortunately, the effects of reefer madness are long lasting, most of the haters are stubborn boomers who have never used it.” 

Many others think we’re already getting there. “As a Colorado resident, it is pretty socially acceptable here,” a woman named Sydney tells us. 

Most, however, agree with Frances. They think it’s just going to take some more time before all of the stigma created over the past several decades wears down enough for change. So, feel free to push it this holiday season if you’re feeling brave. We recommend using a vape pen. Or you could also make a cannabis tincture that you can put into any beverage you like.

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