Michigan-made Happi seltzers are the first cannabis beverages to hit the market in that state. So it falls to the company to “educate consumers that it’s possible to drink cannabis,” said Lisa Hurwitz, Happi’s president. First on the shelves is also, “a big opportunity to lead the way with the brand,” she said.
The young company is joining a national trend. According to industry ecommerce site LeafLink, while smokable flower remains the best-selling cannabis category, edibles and ingestibles are experiencing the fastest growth. In newer markets like Michigan, there is also likely to be larger percentage of causal users, said Alex Feldman, general manager of insights and marketing services at Leaflink. In the first two months of this year, gummies and chocolates dominated the list among the Edibles & Ingestibles and Concentrates categories,
Happi’s target market is women who use or are curious about cannabis. They may be looking for a low-calorie alternative to alcohol or have other reasons to explore the category. “The drinks are unisex of course and we love our male consumers but we design for the female consumer,” said Hurwitz.
The drinks come in Lemon Elderflower, Raspberry Honeysuckle, and Pomegranate Hibiscus, and each 8.5 ounce can of the seltzer water is infused with 2.5mg of THC, which makes it a low dose option. (Ten milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that give users the high, is considered a “serving.”) The drinks are made with organic fruit, are gluten-free and contain 15-25 calories per can. Four-packs cost about $20.
Coming later this year are seltzers containing 5mg of THC to meet the demand of the higher THC consumer said Hurwitz.
Also on the Happi docket are “functional” drinks that focus on wellness concerns such as sleep, anxiety and creativity, by employing different cannabinoid formulations. “Most drinks have CBD or THC, but we are experimenting with CBN, CBG and other cannabanoids,” Hurwitz said.
The company has faced some challenges. There were production growing pains said Hurwitz, because no one had manufactured a cannabis drink in Michigan before. One innovation has been an attachment to the canning line that precisely doses each beverage container with the proper amount of THC. “That maintains consistency,” said Hurwitz.
Happi has found success as a women-founded, women-focused business including female investors, and an eye on diverse hiring said Hurwitz. She advises other female entrepreneurs in the industry to reach out to their network and ask for help from other women. “There’s a real camaraderie in cannabis,” she said, “a real desire to lift each other up.”