With Legal Weed Comes Hemp Beer

Washington breweries ride the green wave

Marijuana’s legalization in Colorado and Washington has led to a boom market of growers, sellers and investors seeking to cash in as the long-illicit drug goes legit. And then there’s the ancillary market. Cannabis swag has been flourishing in each state, with the leaf appearing on everything from throw pillows to key fobs. So it should come as little surprise that breweries are riding the green wave.

As Washington processes its first applications for pot-related business licenses, local store shelves are being stocked with 22 oz. bottles of Joint Effort, a hemp beer crafted by two local breweries to evoke the aroma of weed. The name is a double entendre about their collaboration and the drug that was legalized there last November. It’s also part of the reason that the brew can be sold only in the Evergreen State.

Beer brewed with hemp, a botanical cousin to hops, can be (and has been) sold elsewhere in the U.S., so long as it tests negative for mind-altering THC. But a hemp brew’s label can’t contain any slang or graphics “implying or referencing the presence of … marijuana” if it’s going to be approved by the federal government for sales across state lines. Joint Effort, made by Redhook Ale Brewery and Hilliard’s Beer, is decorated with the tag line “a dubious collaboration between two buds.” And those puns, a company spokesman says, were enough for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to reject their label application. That left the brewers to sell their resiny ale at home, where the state liquor board approved.

- Read the entire article at Time Magazine.

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