Pot beer could be next high for some home brewers

Fox BYO / Published November 14, 2012 / FoxNews.com

Call it stoner suds or ganja brew.

Home brewers have been quietly experimenting with using pot in their home-made beer, especially in states that have allowed the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Now marijuana and beer will soon become a legal combination, at least for home brewers in Colorado and Washington. With the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and Washington Initiative 502 last week–which legalizes adult marijuana possession, cultivation and sales in the two states–home brewers may be able to legally add marijuana to their recipes.

“We don’t regulate homebrewers. If they infused with marijuana, we wouldn’t be involved in their home production.”

– Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue

“I think that having it be legalized within the state, the potential for home brewers to add marijuana to their beer is higher than before,” director of American Homebrewers Association David Glass told FoxNews.com.

“It is easy for anyone to see that there will be increased potential for exposure of pot to a wide variety of ingestible products,” Mark Emiley of Washington Homebrewers told FoxNews.com.

Homebrewing has grown nationwide and approximately 750,000 brew beer at home, according to American Homebrewers Association. Home brewers, forever trying out unique recipes using creative ingredients, will soon be free to experiment with the green stuff in Colorado and Washington, since homebrewing is governed by state law.

“We don’t regulate home brewers,” spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, Mark Couch, told FoxNews.com “If they infused with marijuana, we wouldn’t be involved in their home production.”

Glass said marijuana would most likely be used as a replacement for hops, one of the primary flavoring ingredients in beer. Hops are the closest related plants to cannabis, so they would be used in similar ways.

While this may seem like a dream combination for some, one of the main hurdles that may stop home brewers from adding marijuana is the price.

To put it in perspective, an ounce of hops is about two dollars, whereas an ounce of marijuana could sell for over two hundred dollars for mid grade. “It would be a very expensive ingredient,” said Glass. However, studies have shown that legalizing the drug would drop the market price 100 times, making it just a few dollars an ounce.

Initiative 502 won’t be law until December and Amendment 64 until early January— so until then marijuana is still illegal in both states.

Even though marijuana possession will soon be legal on the state level, Coloradans and Washingtonians will still have to be aware of federal law, which says enforcement of drug laws remains unchanged. “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told the Associated Press, “so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

Also, don’t expect to see bottles of pot beer sold at bar or stores any time soon. “Our recipes are regulated by the federal government so it’s not an option for us,” Brad Veltman, owner of Aspen Brewing Company told FoxNews.com.

Like the federal government, homebrewing organizations like Washington Homebrewers and the American Homebrewers Association do not condone the use of marijuana in beer, whether it is legal in their state or not.

“I don’t think the American Homebrewers Association would support something that would be federally illegal,” said Glass.

Glass added that home brewers are looking to create something that’s flavorful, not something that is going to get you intoxicated, so he doesn’t see the incentive of an ingredient that would add to the intoxication of their beer.

But that may not stop you from seeing marijuana beer. “Perhaps it would lead more users of marijuana into homebrewing with marijuana,” he said.

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