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Washington’s new THC-infused ‘beer’ isn’t what you think

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Washington is apparently getting its first THC-infused “beer,” but the quotations around it are no mistake: Strictly speaking, it’s not beer, and it’s not allowed to be.

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Made by Tarukino Inc., on the surface it seems like “Reeb” is Washington’s response to Blue Moon’s own THC-infused beverage sold in Colorado. And while neither drink advertises itself as a beer per se, there’s an ironclad legal reason behind that.

“You cannot have a THC-infused beer with alcohol in it — it’s illegal in the state,” said Mikhail Carpenter, spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

To Reeb’s credit, nowhere on its packaging does it claim to be a beer, instead labeled a “bitter barley soda,” and describing itself as a “hop forward soda reminiscent of a pale ale, but without the alcohol content.”

The issue here isn’t with what’s on the Reeb label — especially since legally, it can’t call itself a beer in the state of Washington. Rather, it’s an issue of perception. Comparisons to Pilsners, stouts, and ambers are all over the advertising text, including a line about how “beer lovers will be impressed by the taste of our new barley sodas.”

“I don’t like this,” said KIRO Radio’s Gee Scott. “I just need it be more inconvenient. This is just too easy — I don’t like THC beer.”

The high in a THC-infused beer is said to come on quicker too, as laid out by one company in a recent Esquire article. Meanwhile, the movement continues to spread, with Heineken subsidiary Lagunitas even releasing a THC-infused sparkling water in California.

Ultimately, THC-infused beverages get to have their cake and eat it too: They don’t have to call themselves beer, but with enough careful wording, they still reap the benefits of being perceived as beer at a casual glance.

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