Over the past couple months, marijuana-infused beer has become the hottest trend with South Florida breweries. This isn’t an uptick due to legalized medicinal marijuana either; brewers have been experimenting with cannabis terpene oil, which contains neither psychoactive THC or CBD, citing its flavorful aroma as an inspiration.
But that appears to be coming to an end. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau sent cease-and-desist letters to multiple South Florida breweries ahead of 4/20 brewery parties centered around their weed-infused beers. As the Sun Sentinel reports, the letters block the breweries from selling any craft beer infused with cannabis terpenes oil that hasn’t received federal approval.
The beer companies have been told they “should stop production of any fermented beverages [using cannabis terpenes oil] until you have obtained the appropriate formula approval,” a TTB letter mailed to one of the breweries read.
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Here’s the catch: the breweries aren’t technically using controlled substances, but still require a sign-off from the feds. Twisted Trunk Brewing even had an independent lab test their terpenes oil and it had “zero-point-zero percent” THC and CBD, says one of the brewery’s co-owners. Beer recipes containing cannabis terpenes oil are approved by the TTB on a “case-by-case” situation, with the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration sometimes making the final call.
“If you’ve used an ingredient, like [cannabis] terpenes oil, you would need to come to us for formula approval first, since that product isn’t recognized as a traditional beer ingredient,” Thomas Hogue, a TTB spokesman and director of the agency’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, told the Sun Sentinel. “We will not approve labels or formulas for products that contain a controlled substance.”
Two breweries canceled 4/20-themed events and others have halted production on the beers, reports the Miami New-Times. A couple breweries have submitted their beer formulas for federal approval.
Regardless, these brewers say they may have stumbled upon a brand-new innovation in the beer world. They say cannabis terpenes oil could be the ingredient they didn’t even know was missing.
“It’s kind of like the fifth Beatle,” one brewer said, in a reference to beer four primary ingredients of water, hops, grain, and yeast. “I was a naysayer in my mind, thinking it was going to taste too medicinal, or not smell like weed. But it’s potent. It’s aromatic. When we first sipped it, we were like, ‘Holy s—.’ ”