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Bars, coffee shops and liquor stores experiment with THC

As THC products have become legal, stores ranging from coffee shops to restaurants are growing their businesses by selling THC edibles, beverages and food to customers.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
THC drinks are stocked up at Joe’s Market in Como, on Nov. 26, 2023.

Minneapolis coffee shops, restaurants, bars, liquor stores and more are expanding their menus with new THC-based food and beverages.

THC products have become more mainstream in the Twin Cities as businesses adjusted to THC legalization in July 2022 with recreational cannabis following in May 2023.

When THC beverages were legalized, Minneapolis Cider Co. co-founder Jason Dayton said they saw an opportunity to offer a product many consumers have never tried before.

“It’s a category that we knew was really primed for a lot of consumer demand and excitement,” Dayton said. “Since we’ve launched, we’ve struggled to keep it in stock and have produced as much as we physically possibly can.”

Seward coffee shop Milkweed benefited as the sales from their THC products have covered the cost of inflation, Milkweed owner Brenda Ingersoll said.

Lakes and Legends bar owner Derrick Taylor said around a third of all their sales in the taproom come from their THC beverage, Hiii Water.

“It’s important to innovate and evolve to make sure that you’re offering what the consumer is looking for,” Taylor said. “[THC] is one of a few things that’s keeping us in business, so it’s been critical.”

THC Drinks like Trail Magic and Hiii Water are not the only types of THC products in the market. THC edible gummies, oils, food and more have reached store shelves.

Liquor stores like Top Ten Liquors, Surdyk’s and Total Wine now sell THC products. Cub Foods has also begun to sell THC alongside its alcohol.

Ingersoll said businesses like hers are part of a larger movement to destigmatize and normalize THC usage.

“This is pretty normal for us and it can exist alongside things like coffee,” Ingersoll said. “We are a part of the business of normalizing it, just making it a part of everyday life.”

Dayton said THC products being sold outside of dispensaries helps remove the stigma around THC and weed in general.

“It’s proof that accessibility helps eliminate stigma,” Dayton said. “If you can just walk into your liquor store and pick up a four-pack of Trail Magic, that’s a much more comfortable place for people to explore the category.”

The future of THC products in bars remains in limbo as legislators are considering amending a part of the law preventing bars from selling alcohol to someone who has already had THC within the past five hours, or vice versa.

Dayton said customers rarely mix alcohol and THC. As long as they drink responsibly, Dayton said guests are free to drink both.

Other changes are possible as state Republicans have questioned portions of the law and the state is still looking to hire a director of Minnesota’s marijuana regulatory agency.

A senior beer and THC buyer for Top Ten Liquor, Mike Borgertpoepping said these new THC products are attracting new customers, as well as old ones, who want to try something new.

Borgertpoepping said choosing to sell THC products was an easy decision as many customers look for alternatives to alcohol.

“Our goal you know as Top Ten is to meet our customers where they want to be,” Borgertpoepping said. “If that means it isn’t necessarily historical beverage alcohol brands, they’re looking for something different. We want to make sure that we have what our customers are looking for.”

Dayton said the growing number of shops adding THC-based products to their menus is helping to normalize THC across Minnesota.

“What’s been really unique about Minnesota is it’s the first place where cannabis has truly become normalized through the beverage products,” Dayton said. “There’s always been a stigma associated with it in some groups and I think these are the first products to really break down that barrier.”

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  • Jason Harvey
    Dec 4, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    Great Post! The experimentation with THC in bars, coffee shops, and liquor stores reflects a multifaceted trend that encompasses economic, cultural, and regulatory aspects. Successful integration requires a balanced approach that considers consumer preferences, legal considerations, and responsible business practices.