Another group of products vying for that abstinence occasion are CBD-infused drinks like Recess and Mad Tasty. Klineman calls them “buzz substitutes.”
CBD products have earned a reputation of being a quasi-panacea for anything ailing the modern-day consumer. Many drinks claim to regulate mood, calm the mind, improve focus, boost immunity, reduce inflammation and aid sleep.
For its part, Recess aims to replace occasions where a consumer might otherwise reach for an alcoholic beverage or a caffeinated drink.
“As many people drink Recess now in the evenings as a substitute for alcohol, as do those who drink it in the afternoon as a substitute for their two-o’clock coffee,” said founder Ben Witte.
Witte views CBD, short for cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, as the base ingredient in an emerging set of products that are formulated to help optimize a person’s mental state.
“There’s a big new category forming that includes offerings which are intended to engage with your mind in some way,” he said. “Nootropics are an example of that. Adaptogens are an example of that. Magnesium is an example of that.”
Witte’s wager is that a beverage containing CBD and other functional ingredients will become a “daily habit” for many consumers – like coffee or alcohol -- which in turn will enable him to build a brand that extends beyond drinks.
He also believes a product like Recess can help beer distributors offset future alcohol sales declines, and that major chain retailers will soon be building dedicated “relaxation” sections in their stores once the Food and Drug Administration clarifies its rules around ingestible CBD products.
Currently, CBD cannot technically be included in food and beverage products, advertised as a dietary supplement, or marketed and sold as a drug.
Nevertheless, Witte and others have plowed ahead, asserting that the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill -- which removed hemp (cannabis sativa plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC) from the legal definition of marijuana – gives them the right to infuse their drinks with CBD and sell them in markets like Colorado that allow hemp to be used as a food additive.
They’re betting that the FDA will eventually form guidelines and regulate the market, which will open up massive retail opportunities at chain stores Walmart, 7-Eleven, CVS and Target, among others.