top of page
  • Writer's pictureNorwalk Partnership

The THC drinks issue: what to know now

Updated: May 2

Many Norwalk residents were surprised recently to see Stew Leonard's grocery store selling drinks containing THC (the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana) right at the entrance near the baked goods. Some have shared their views with the store (link here). At TNP's coalition meeting last week and throughout the community, THC-infused drinks have been a big topic of discussion. Today's Nancy on Norwalk also reprinted a CT Mirror article about it.

Issues raised by community members

  • In CT, intoxicating substances can only be legally sold at retail locations that are licensed (e.g., package stores, cannabis retailers, smoke shops). The THC drinks (aka THC seltzers or social tonics) are exploiting a gray-area loophole related to hemp-derived THC products that the state legislature thought they closed last year.

  • People don't expect to find THC for sale at a grocery or other stores that don't sell (and aren't licensed to sell) other drugs. (At Stew Leonard's, alcohol is sold across the street in a separate Wine & Liquors store.) As a result, several people commented that they or their kids would trustingly buy the drinks without reading the labels, because they look like wellness products. The can even says it's "a party drink with no alcohol." (See picture below.)

  • Several people noted that many teenagers are cashiers at Stew's. They questioned whether the teens would be comfortable with carding and even refusing sales to buyers who might be underage.

  • The THC-infused drinks for sale at Stew's contain 12 oz each, similar to any soda. However, each drink is labeled as 5 servings--even though it seems unrealistic to think that people only drink 20% of a can. This raised questions about how much THC is in one serving. The can lists "5mg THC + 10mg CBD," without clearly stating whether that's per can or per serving.

In online communities, some residents expressed that they were glad that cannabis drinks were more available in stores. The drinks are also currently available at some restaurants or bars.

Legislative considerations

When CT legalized adult-use cannabis, the legislature worked to put safeguards in place to minimize advertising / visibility to children and teens. Our state laws also encourage and protect state businesses to be the growers, packagers, and sellers of cannabis, discouraging national chains from moving into the CT cannabis market. The THC-infused drinks, however, may not have to follow the state rules. The brand for sale at Stew's grocery store is not from Connecticut, so the can doesn't follow our health warning labels.

In response, the legislature is currently hotly debating and adapting a proposed bill, HB5150, which focuses on a number of cannabis-related laws. In terms of THC-infused drinks, the bill would:

  • limit point of sale of THC drinks to cannabis retail stores and alcohol (package) stores, consistent with how marijuana and alcohol are already sold

  • require that a 12 oz drink be considered 1 serving

  • restrict the number of milligrams of THC in one serving

The bill passed the House yesterday, on April 30th. It will be voted on by the Senate next. With the legislative session in the process of wrapping up, if you have an opinion about whether or not THC drinks should be treated the same as other cannabis products in our current laws, now is the time to reach out to your senator to share your views. Meanwhile...

Lock those drinks up!

Drinks containing marijuana are a new horizon for most of us! In particular, adults who choose to purchase these drinks should be especially careful about keeping them out of the hands of their kids.

  • Consider a separate small "beer fridge" where the drinks can be locked up.

  • Be sure to warn your kids that these are adult-only drinks, because they look like juices and have flavors like lavender-lemon. Let them know that these drinks, like alcohol and other drugs, are not healthy or safe for children and teens.

  • Keep track of how many you purchase and who has access to them.

  • Keep the CT poison control number handy: 800-222-1222. In 2022, there were 6,379 poison control calls about marijuana overdoses in children under age 12. That's over twice as many as in 2020!

Check out our video of tips for responsible adult-use of cannabis:

131 views0 comments


bottom of page