The spread of legalized weed across the United States has created an opportunity for sobriety’s worst nightmare to surface: The divine marriage of marijuana and booze.
On Tuesday — one week after Americans voted to make recreational weed legal in California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts — alcohol giant Constellation Brands announced that it would consider making weed-infused booze. By doing so, the company, which is responsible for the sales of Corona beer and Svedka vodka in the U.S., will recreate the efforts of countless amateur stoner chemists before them, all of whom were well aware of the happy chemistry between marijuana and ethanol.
The key to infusing anything with weed is to dissolve its psychoactive ingredient — that’s THC — in the appropriate substance. This is where high school chemistry proves its use. Like, your chemistry professor told you,dissolves like. The chemical structure of a compound says everything about which solvents it will happily dissolve in. In the case of THC, this rule explains why pot brownies require a weed butter base as well as why marijuana tea isn’t really a thing.
The chemical structure of THC is what chemists would label “nonpolar,” meaning there’s not much of a difference in electrical charge on either end of it. Water is very polar, which is why THC doesn’t dissolve well in it. Fats, like butter, are nonpolar. Conveniently, so is alcohol. Dropping some bud into a jug of vodka in an attempt to create dank booze, therefore, is a chemically sound and, frankly, brilliant experiment.
The experiment is, of course, nothing new. Online, there are countless recipes for marijuana tinctures, a fancy term for “THC dissolved in booze,” outlining tips for how to consistently extract the most amount of THC from your bud. But such experimentation is largely inexact, with variables like wide-ranging THC content in marijuana, solution temperature, and alcohol concentration being potential confounding factors.
Companies like Constellation Brands, however, are likely to take that knowledge and distill it into a science, seeing as the market for weed-infused booze is set to skyrocket. Which is just as well for would-be imbibers of pot-laced booze: The chemistry isn’t going to get any easier to understand once you’ve had a sip of it.