Just in time for the two weeks of the year when Seattleites complain about the city's lack of air conditioning, weed sodas have officially become a thing.
Refrigerators are being installed in dispensaries across the city, and 10 percent of edibles sold last month were sodas, according to an analysis done by Lemonhaze.com, a Seattle start-up that uses wholesale and retail data to analyze Washington's pot market.
I like soda, I love weed, but after trying out a couple different brands, I can safely say that I don't think weed sodas are for me. It makes sense why I wouldn't like them, though. I am, politely speaking, a weed enthusiast. I appreciate pot's flavors, and I am not uncomfortable handling the plant.
These products aren't really about the weed, however. In fact, the brands differentiate themselves on how unlike weed they taste, so if you hate weed but like getting high, you might very well like weed sodas.
The market for weed sodas is clearly increasing—more companies are making them and more people are buying them—so I decided to try a few out. I split a bottle of Olala Orange Cream Soda (100 milligrams, $32 at Dockside Cannabis) with my girlfriend before a jazz show, and I drank some Cannabis Quencher Lemonade (100 milligrams, $18 at the West Seattle Marijuana Store) before touring around a park. I looked back on both products with a shrugging meh feeling.
Mixing weed soda with jazz was definitely the better of the two experiences. I drank about a third of the Olala about an hour before the show; it tasted clearly like orange soda at first but ended with a strange astringent bitterness. By the time Kahil El'Zabar hit the stage at Columbia City Theater, I was enjoying an engaging high. El'Zabar used percussion, either a drum kit or a small wooden box instrument called a mbira, to create strange, sometimes beautiful and sometimes chaotic melodies. Saxophonist David Murray played alongside him, often sounding exasperated as he made huge runs across the range of notes on his tenor sax.
But to be honest, I would have enjoyed the show even if I was stone-cold sober, and I think I would have preferred sharing a blunt or a couple bowls beforehand to drinking the soda.
The soda did have all the benefits of an edible, however: It didn't involve any inhalation of smoke, it was discreet, and the high lasted for a couple hours longer than from smoking.
A growing number of companies are trying to make money off weed soda in Washington. According to that same Lemonhaze analysis, the number of brands has increased from one soda company producing one flavor in March of 2015 to seven different brands producing 32 flavors.
I tried the Cannabis Quencher Lemonade while hanging out at West Seattle's Lincoln Park, a forested bluff just south of Alki Beach with its own sandy shores sticking out into Puget Sound. It took more than an hour to feel anything after drinking about a third of the bottle, which tasted like lemonade with a bit of weed resin mixed in. Its effects were pretty mild, until a few hours passed and I started to get extremely tired, stuck in that kind of unpleasant couch-locked sensation where you hardly feel in control of your muscles.
I'm not going to tell you not to get a Cannabis Quencher—it's hard to evaluate pot products because individual experiences tend to vary wildly depending on a lot of outside factors—but I probably wouldn't buy another one.
But I'm beginning to realize that my opinion on pot sodas might not matter at all. The legal weed industry isn't trying to sell things that only potheads like me want; it's also looking to expand the market for weed and trying to figure out what can convince pot-wary people to try the drug. Hopefully these sweet sodas aren't being used to appeal to the underage crowd.
If you hate weed, or you have a friend or family member who hates weed for reasons other than its effects, pot sodas might be a good alternative. Just make sure to start out with smaller doses—prices are conveniently incremental, with some 10 milligram THC sodas selling for less than $7 at certain stores.