Dr. Keith Villa, author of Brewing with Cannabis: Using THC and CBD in Beer, warns of more sweeping changes, especially with the potential of federal legalization. In 2017, Dr. Villa launched Ceria Brewing, a Colorado-based brewery specializing in non-alcoholic beer infused with low doses of THC and CBD. In his estimation, things will probably tend towards the model he’s seen in Colorado or California, where beer and THC are kept strictly separate. What’s happening in Minnesota right now will probably never happen again in the United States.
“I think the FDA and the federal government are going to try to keep [THC] as isolated from alcohol as possible,” he said. “Federal legalization in the States could end up looking like Canada, where it’s illegal to produce both types of beverages in the same building.”
Dr. Villa also warns that, like in Canada, it might become illegal for breweries to use their brands to sell THC products. Right now, Minnesota beermakers are trading on their brands’ standing within craft beer, but a federal law like this could undo all that. “Minnesota brewers really should take that to heart,” he said. “If the federal government said you’ve got to separate the names, then they’re gonna have to start from ground zero.”
What’s happening in Minnesota is a volatile crucible, and every brewery with a THC drink on the menu has some sense that they’re in tender days. Pages are falling off the calendar. But at least for this brief moment, in the exact right political conditions, the excitement feels familiar.