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New hemp beer in Washington reflects growing business trend

Medical Marijuana Business Daily

The floodgates are starting to open.

A growing number of mainstream businesses are looking to capitalize on the excitement tied to legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, new opportunities in industrial hemp, and the growth of the general medical marijuana market across the United States.

Case in point: One of the most well-known breweries in Washington state — Redhook — has teamed up with another local brewer to release a beer made with hemp seeds. The brew, called Joint Effort Hemp Ale, is now available at bars across the state on draught, complete with a tap handle shaped like a giant yellow bong. Joint Effort will also be released in 22-ounce bottles this fall.

Just in case the target market isn’t clear enough from the beer’s name or the shape of the tap handle, Red Hook and its partner — Seattle microbrewery Hilliard’s Beer — said the hemp ale “celebrates the legalization of marijuana in Washington State” and is “the perfect brew for hanging with your buds” and “grabbing some munchies.”

It’s not the first cannabis-themed beer. Another brewery on the East Coast used the term “420” for a beer released earlier this year (before getting caught up in a trademark dispute), while other small brewers have experimented with hemp beers before.

But Join Effort Hemp Ale involves a big name in the craft brewing scene — Redhook was founded in the 1980s, ranking as one of the first microbreweries in the country — and is directly tied to the recent legalization of marijuana in Washington.

Other “traditional” companies are hoping to ride the cannabis wave as well.

Last month, Medical Marijuana Business Daily highlighted a dozen publicly traded firms in everything from the nutritional to surfing apparel industries that are creating new cannabis — and hemp-related products and service. And many smaller companies and professionals with their own practices — particularly in the accounting, security, real estate, advertising/marketing, legal and insurance areas — are trying to transition into the marijuana industry as well, especially those in new medical marijuana states.

The trend will pick up steam as more states legalize medical marijuana, recreational cannabis and industrial hemp, and eventually large, publicly traded companies with household brand names — such as those in the agriculture industry — could even get involved.

In the beer world, it’s only a matter of time before other breweries follow suit with cannabis-themed beers, particularly in Colorado and Washington. But don’t expect marijuana-infused beers on the market anytime soon, as both states are looking to prevent companies from making products that mix THC and alcohol (though home brewers/private growers are already experimenting). And it’s doubtful the big players (such as Colorado-based Coors) will start making cannabis-themed beers anytime soon.

 
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