On a recent lazy weekday, a friend and I who hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks opted to stay in, binge watch TV and order take out. Neither of us are big into alcohol lately, but this particular friend is a frequent user of weed, both medicinally and otherwise, so I brought over a bottle of cannabis-infused spirit Nowadays for us to try. Though this brand (and others in the category) use the word “spirit,” there’s no actual alcohol in the mix — the buzz that comes from this drink is strictly from THC, and a pretty small dose of it.
Mixing up very simple drinks with club soda, ice, and 1.5 ounces of the “Micro Dose” of Nowadays, which is just 2 MG of THC, I felt a super light buzz about 10 minutes into the drink. Just enough to go perfectly with a giant burrito — word to Sky’s Gourmet Tacos — and a blissful day of doing nothing with my favorite fellow lounger. I rarely smoke weed because I have a super low tolerance and often overdo it, leading to paranoid thoughts so overbearing, I can’t be around people. But this option let me precisely measure consumption. It also cut out any coughing, smoke residue and accoutrement I’m often missing like a lighter, ashtray and proper ventilation. Consuming cannabis as easily as pouring a vodka soda? That’s something I can get behind.
And that’s exactly what Justin Tidwell and Antony Puterman had in mind when they designed Nowadays to, in their words, “deliver a light and buzzy experience without the negative effects of alcohol.” (I’d add that it also sidesteps the negative effects of overdoing it with weed.) We all know that cannabis doesn’t impair your judgment the way alcohol can, and it certainly doesn’t cause a gnarly hangover. But the way the “spirit” version delivers an experience that’s almost identical to alcohol — just without the booze — is what makes this new category so interesting. Already, in places like Oakland, “cannabars” are popping up, serving only drinks made with THC spirits. Odds are, the trend will only grow as weed continues to become decriminalized and normalized throughout America and not just in certain liberal hotbeds.
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Tidwell and Puterman operate out company of Newport Beach, California, where, obviously, cannabis has been legalized. But because of a loophole in legislation, the low amount of THC in their product means they can ship it across state lines, so it’s available to order DTC for almost the entire country. “The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legally defines anything with less than 0.3% THC as hemp,” Tidwell says. “Because of that, we can incorporate THC into our product, and as long as it meets the under .3% threshold, we can ship it across state lines. Our product is currently shipped to 35 states because of differing regulations in regards to hemp products, and the easiest way to order Nowadays is directly through our website — we ship directly to consumers’ doors.”
One of the use cases behind Nowadays is people who have a low tolerance for cannabis or are just starting out and want to closely monitor the impact it has. “Our product was intentionally designed to be microdosed to ensure someone who is new to cannabis had a positive first interaction with cannabis,” Puterman says. “For a consumer’s first experience, we recommend starting out by sipping on a 2 MG drink with a 1.5 oz servings of Nowadays, seeing how you feel after 15 to 30 minutes and crafting your experience from there. This takes the fear of the cannabis experience out of the equation and allows the consumer to enjoy it as intended.”
But there’s another dose level for more experienced cannabis users, too. The “Low Dose” iteration offers a stronger buzz with 6 MG of THC per 1.5 oz serving. It’s still not a super large amount for a heavy user, but after two or three shots, it definitely gets the job done. “Consumers going into dispensaries are generally looking for high dosed products, whereas we built this brand for the mass-market consumer who expects great flavors and tasting profiles,” Tidwell says. “Because of this, our product is focused on performing in mainstream channels like liquor stores, restaurants, bars and grocery stores.”
They also see the potential for growth within the sober curious community — a growing number of people who are concerned about the long-term impact of alcohol on physical, emotional and mental health — and are beginning to cut back or abstain from drinking. Plenty of brands in the non-alcoholic beverage space are launching herbal infusions, and in some ways, Nowadays is just another. But the product’s name was a hat tip to the shift and a prediction that cannabis spirits will catch on in a big way. “Our name ‘Nowadays’ is short for ‘Nowadays this is what we drink,’ and it’s a fun way of leaning into what we feel is the future of consumption in the beverage category,” Puterman says.
Currently, there are two Nowadays dose strengths available: Nowadays Micro Dose ($39.99) with 2 mg THC per 1.5 oz serving (33 MG THC per 750ml bottle), “delivering a light buzz and controllable experience that is especially ideal for new cannabis consumers.” And for those with a higher tolerance, the Nowadays Low Dose ($59.99) is 6 mg THC per 1.5 oz serving (100 MG THC per 750ml bottle), “offers a stronger buzz for the experienced cannabis consumer.”
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