A Superior Harm Reduction Solution: THC Beverages

Last week I explained THC beverages to someone unfamiliar with them.

As we got deeper into the conversation, they eventually asked: “What is the value proposition for THC beverages, what is the vision for this product category?” It’s not that they didn’t understand it, but they wanted me to sum it up in my own words.

This was not hard for me to answer, but I realized the importance of how we frame this product: if done correctly, this product category will attract millions of new consumers, millions and billions of dollars in investment, and potentially change the world of adult beverages forever.

If we can’t get our message across correctly to consumers, regulators, and investors, this movement might take much longer than intended; it could even risk becoming a “fad” that fades into oblivion with all the other hot trends in beverage history.

Total failure seems highly unlikely, given the sheer volume of sales currently.

But the speed at which we attain our goals could vary based on the ethical and moral character of our operators, the way that we fight government resistance, and the messaging and education we provide to consumers and policymakers.

In a space often thwarted by stigmatization, bad actors, and misinformation, thoughtful messaging is key to winning the battles ahead.

In the past, I’ve made arguments about declining alcohol consumption, the need for smokeless cannabis consumption methods, and how beverages are more approachable than other cannabis form factors.

Those are all strong arguments, but it’s important to wrap them into a broader point that I see as much more powerful: harm reduction.

Cannabis: A Solution for Harm Reduction

I’ve heard people say “Cannabis is healthier than alcohol” or “how can cannabis be bad for you, it’s literally a plant!”

These statements are headed in the wrong direction. 

Some may not agree with this, but I believe that any mind-altering substance whether it be alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, or psychedelics is not really “healthy” in any amount. They seem relatively okay in moderation, but attempting to call one “healthier” than the other is pointless. They all have associated health risks, and we would all be 100% healthier if we consumed none.

But we are humans. We have stressful days, we like to celebrate accomplishments, and we like socializing. Mind-altering substances generally fit into these scenarios very well.

So, if we adjust the original statement to “Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol”, I believe we begin to find some truth.

It’s helpful to look at the broad impact of substances in the US when approaching this topic.

For hundreds of years, there were generally three main ways to kick back and relax:

  • Drink Alcohol

  • Smoke Tobacco

  • Smoke Cannabis

While other illicit substances have had their moments, these three have essentially always reigned as the favorites. Many of us engage in these activities, but they don’t come without their consequences:


Smoking Tobacco

Smoking Cannabis

  • While there are statistics on the cost of arrests due to possession / illegal sale of cannabis, I cannot find any that relate to medical or societal costs from cannabis use.

  • Many studies confirm that cannabis legalization either resulted in no change to instances of crime or resulted in a decrease in crime.

  • It is well documented that it is practically impossible to overdose on cannabis.

  • Health Risks:

    • Impairs the function of your endothelial cells

    • Potential to develop lung cancer

    • Bronchitis

    • Lowered immune system

    • Decreases cognitive capacity over time

    • Increases probability of strokes

    • Severely impacts lung function

    • Can lead to sexual dysfunction and lowered testosterone levels in males

All of these substances come with their associated risks. Without sounding too biased, here is what stands out to me about cannabis:

  • There is no evidence that more crime is committed when individuals have access to cannabis (some studies have found the opposite).

  • The CDC does not have a category for cannabis-related deaths, and it is impossible to overdose on the substance.

  • There is no history of large historical societal costs from people using cannabis, besides locking up growers and dealers.

  • Many other drugs like opioids, fenyntal, crack cocaine, and tranq (Xylazine) have caused observable crises in many areas of our country. Cannabis has been widely available through the black and grey markets for decades and is available for recreational and medical purchase in over 30 states now, and no such crises have ever emerged.

No, I am not claiming that cannabis is “healthy”, or “good for you” or anything like that.

But is it less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, the two most popular substances in the United States?

I believe so.

THC Beverages: A Superior Solution for Harm Reduction

Now let’s focus on THC beverages specifically. 

What unique qualities make THC beverage a superior social lubricant when compared to alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, and even cannabis flower?

There are two important pitches here, one for consumers, and one for regulators.


Problem: Social drinking is a huge part of American culture, but drinking alcohol has many short-term health consequences. While there are many non-alcoholic beverages, there is nothing that provides a social buzz without the hangover / short-term consequences. Cannabis flower is widely available in many states, but smoking indoors is not allowed, smoking poses obvious health risks to humans, and it is not a very approachable form factor for those used to drinking things.

Solution: THC beverages!

Given the current pain points in social lubricants right now, it seems that THC beverages check all the right boxes.

Avoid the dreaded hangover of alcohol and the smoke and smell from cannabis flower, while enjoying the same great familiar flavors and still getting a light social buzz.


Problem: Alcohol costs the American economy an estimated $249 billion each year. It can cause death, medical complications, domestic violence, and violent crime. Non-alcoholic beverages are a great alternative but do not provide the social buzz that some consumers still look for. Cannabis is legal in many states, but the most available and popular form of consumption is cannabis flower, which cannot be consumed indoors, and poses health risks due to the general implications of smoking.

Solution: THC Beverages!

Given the consequences we already experience from widespread alcohol consumption and some of the pain points of cannabis smoking, it seems like THC beverages could be a viable solution.

THC beverages provide consumers access to a safer social lubricant than alcohol while avoiding some of the unintended consequences of smoking cannabis. Some of the health risks like lung impairment and strokes are avoided when a consumer does not smoke. This allows consumers to get the social buzz they crave, but could potentially eliminate or greatly reduce the vast negative externalities caused by alcohol overconsumption.

Here are some other interesting findings when comparing THC to its biggest competitor, alcohol:

  • A federally funded study found that states with legal cannabis have lower rates of alcohol use disorder.

  • A study in 2022 found that cannabis legalization led to lower amounts of alcohol and tobacco use.

  • A study found that Colorado and Oregon saw significant declines in alcohol sales after cannabis legalization.

  • Multiple studies have concluded that cannabis legalization has had no effect on the rate of crime, and in some instances, crime decreased after legalization.

  • Conversely, this is the effect alcohol has on crime:

    • 25% - 50% of assaults involve alcohol

    • 40% of child abusers are under the influence of alcohol at the time of abuse

    • 40% of convicted murders were under the influence of alcohol when they took a life

    • 30% - 40% of sexual assaults are committed when the perpetrator is under the influence of alcohol

    • Multiple studies have found that locations with higher alcohol outlet density are associated with higher levels of crime.

    • Studies have found a strong relationship between per-capita alcohol consumption and rates of homicide, self-inflicted violence, and intimate partner violence.

While short to mid-term health and societal consequences seem to lean in favor of cannabis, one question that has yet to be conclusively answered is whether regular/chronic use of cannabis is truly less harmful to human health than that of alcohol. The answer to this question may not be important in the end (I still resort to my earlier statement that it is silly to argue if one mind-altering substance is healthier than another), but I am interested in seeing the results once we have more extensive data on chronic cannabis use.

However, we are discovering some interesting observations on certain human health areas, like sleep. One interesting factoid is from Whoop (one of the largest fitness wearable companies in the US), comparing the effects of cannabis and alcohol on sleep:

Wrap Up

When developing drug enforcement policies, we must consider harm reduction, negative externalities, and known impacts on human health, and attempt to do the most good for the most amount of people. I’m not asking for alcohol or tobacco to be banned, I’m simply asking for fair treatment of recreational drugs relative to the downsides they possess.

In case I haven’t made this abundantly clear, I believe that THC beverages have immense potential to mitigate many of the risks associated with alcohol consumption, while providing a similar experience through a familiar form factor. I encourage anyone to share this article with those resistant to cannabis, or THC beverages, and help them consider the potential of both the drug and the specific category to positively impact recreational substance use in the US.