November 13, 2019

Coming Soon: Soft Parade-flavored Cannabis Gummies

(And if regulations change, maybe even a Soft Parade with THC.)
By Ross Boissoneau | Oct. 26, 2019

With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Michigan, creating appealing THC-enhanced gummies is on the to-do list of many companies. But who knew that Short’s — already a purveyor of what many Northerners consider medicinal sustenance — would be one of them?
 
The brewery behind Soft Parade, Huma Lupa Licious, Melt My Brain and a host of other beers and ciders has entered into partnership with Green Peak Innovations of Dimondale. The result will be marijuana-infused products that mimic the taste of popular Short’s beers — though without the alcohol, said Green Peak Innovations CEO Jeff Radway.

“Some of our first products will include Soft Parade-flavored gummies and vape pens that taste like Huma Lupa Licious,” he noted.
 
It won’t stop there. Various enhanced beverages such as lemonade and teas also will be produced by the partnership, again crafted to showcase Short’s flavors. While the law allowing marijuana was approved by Michigan voters last year, it is illegal to combine cannabis with alcohol, necessitating a reformulation of beverages. “The state prohibits infusion into any beer, including non-alcoholic beer,” said Joe Neller, the co-founder and chief governmental officer for Green Peak.
 
All of the products are being created at Green Peak; Short’s is working directly with the Green Peak team. “Our role is to bring the flavors of Short’s to products from Green Peak,” said Tony Hansen, Short’s chief innovation officer.
 
Short’s CEO Joe Short said Hansen has been going back and forth with Green Peak to make the flavors as close to the real thing as possible. “He’s our Willie Wonka,” Short said.
 
This was not the first time Short had been contacted by a cannabis company about working together. “I was approached by three other cannabis manufacturers,” he said. The difference? “Green Peak Innovations seemed to know what the heck they were doing.”
 
So he decided to “kick the tires” as he put it, to see if there was indeed a way and a reason to combine their forces.
 
Neller said he’s hopeful the collaboration will enable the two companies to get in on the ground floor of the industry. “We’ve been interested in the beverage space for cannabis products since we started the company in 2017,” he said.
 
He’s also a longtime Short’s enthusiast. “I’m a big fan,” said Neller, pointing in particular to Huma Lupa. “I think it’s the best IPA on the market.” So he went on the Short’s website and filled out the contact form.
 
Within a day, Short responded. It turned out there was mutual interest. Neller said Short told him that he had been thinking about something like this for years. “They’re not afraid to push the envelope,” said Neller.
 
Short said the companies are working together with some of the company’s best-known and best-loved beverages. “Mosa [one of the most popular of Short’s Starcut Ciders line] and Soft Parade translate well to a gummy,” he said, adding that the company would look at some of its fruit-forward beers as other potential flavors.
 
Hansen said the companies are working to make the resulting products as close to the originals as possible. “We want to work with Green Peak to create something enjoyable and full of flavor, safe, high quality, and consistent. Every beer and cider is tested thoroughly. We’re happy Green Peak has the same view and high standards.”
 
The legalization of marijuana has created questions about how it will be regulated. Neller said legislators and regulators are still trying to come to grips with what it all means. Given the prohibition against infusing alcoholic drinks with cannabis, that meant a whole new line of products would have to be created. In addition to lemonades and teas, they include sparkling water, non-alcoholic “mocktails” and cold-brew coffee.
 
If the regulations regarding combining cannabis and alcohol should be relaxed, they’re ready. “If the laws change, part of our deal is [doing] Soft Parade with CBD or THC, or a [non-alohol version] with CBD or THC,” said Neller.
 
Short said he knows entering into an agreement with Green Peak will not sit well with everyone: “You always get some people not supportive of everything, even certain beers we make. You can’t please everybody.
 
“Cannabis is an emerging industry. I’m willing to explore it,” he said.
 
He noted that the industry is so new that it wasn’t even on the radar 10 or 15 years ago. “Five years ago [the idea of developing new, legal cannabis products for mainstream consumers] was insane. Think where it will be five years from now. Then businesses can build a strategy. Right now, it’s a race to space. We know it’s got to be regulated, but how?”
 
The first edible GPI and Short’s products are expected to debut by the end of the year, with infused beverages following shortly after.

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