It started innocently enough, with a generous pour of zinfandel over dinner or a refill of sauvignon blanc while bingeing a true crime series after work. But as the weeks of staying at home turned into months (and one glass of wine turned into two or three), I started questioning my relationship with alcohol. I know I’m not alone, either — a study found that alcohol consumption increased by 14 percent from 2019 to 2020. The uncertainty around the pandemic has triggered stress and anxiety for many people, but it probably goes without saying that booze isn’t the healthiest way to cope.
Fortunately, I found that cannabis drinks were helpful in weaning myself off alcohol. Unlike most of the CBD drinks currently on the market, this new generation of beverages contains THC, so they lend a delightfully subtle buzz comparable to a glass of wine — with no hangover the next day. And, while excessive drinking has been linked to depression and anxiety (among other serious health issues), cannabis can actually have the opposite effect. Research has shown that cannabis may help to treat anxiety and improve sleep. That may explain why a 2020 Harris Poll found that 45 percent of adults have reduced or replaced their alcohol consumption with cannabis, and observed more genuine social connectedness and better overall health as a result of making the switch.
I can speak to these perks from experience: in the interest of cutting back on my drinking at the end of 2020, I tried replacing my nightly glass of wine with Cann, a carbonated “social tonic” with microdoses of cannabis. A week into my experiment, I already noticed that I was feeling calmer after my cannabis nightcap, sleeping more soundly, and waking up more refreshed. The buzz only took about 10 to 15 minutes to set in and lasted for a couple of hours, and because the THC level is low (and balanced out by CBD), it was subtle enough that I felt in control the whole time. Because I don’t use cannabis regularly, I stuck with one or two Canns per night and found that the relaxing effects were on-par with a beer or glass of wine.
If you’ve tried CBD products and been frustrated to find that they didn’t work for you, there may be a legit reason to consider these THC-spiked beverages. Recent studies have suggested that taking both THC and CBD together is more effective than CBD alone, especially when it comes to reducing anxiety. Not only that, but CBD actually helps to put a damper on the psychoactive effects of THC — which means that if like me, you were left traumatized by negative college experiences with marijuana, you won’t have to worry about a scary high.
Cann isn’t the only company capitalizing on this powerful combo, either. Since I began my experiment, I’ve discovered a cannabis beverage for every craving and occasion, from seltzers and teas to wines. So, whether your alcohol consumption has ticked up lately, you don’t like the way you feel the day after downing a drink or two, or you just find that boozing negatively impacts your mood, mental health, or sleep quality, cannabis may just be the solution. Here are some of my favorite drinks to crack open when I want to unwind.