Massachusetts-based Theory Wellness is making waves in the cannabis industry with a groundbreaking concept – the first-ever cannabis beverage dispensary. Challenging the conventional notion that cannabis consumption must involve inhalation, Theory Wellness is capitalizing on the growing popularity of cannabis-infused beverages, aiming to provide a unique and accessible entry point into the cannabis space.
Thomas Winstanley, Chief Marketing Officer at Theory Wellness, highlighted the company's long-standing belief in the potential of cannabis beverages. While the category currently constitutes around 1% of Massachusetts' total cannabis sales, recent reports indicate a remarkable 53% year-over-year growth in cannabis beverage sales from 2021 to 2022. Theory Wellness has observed a steady increase in beverage sales at its own dispensaries, growing from 2% to 3% year-over-year.
Theory Wellness ventured into the cannabis beverage realm by installing a canning line at its Bridgewater production facility, launching Hi5 seltzers in 2021. The brand quickly gained traction, selling one million cans in its first six months. Expanding beyond seltzers, Theory Wellness now offers sodas and energy drinks, with plans to introduce a beverage enhancer soon.
“We think beverages are a big part of the future in this space,” says Winstanley. “We hope to be an accelerator of that growth.” The company aims to cater to individuals who are “canna-curious,” providing a low-level entry point that doesn't involve smoking, vaping, or dealing with unpredictable edibles.
The beverage dispensary, set to open this month in Medford, Massachusetts, challenges the norm with its 750 sq. ft. retail footprint, reminiscent of a bodega or small package store. Emphasizing colorful graphics inspired by the Hi5 brand, the dispensary will be co-located with a traditional dispensary just outside Boston. Both will share a license and a former Volkswagen dealership building.
Theory Wellness envisions the beverage dispensary as a platform for brand experiences, featuring floor-to-ceiling coolers and podiums for leading Massachusetts beverage partners. With premiere partners like Cann, LEVIA, and Good Feels, the dispensary aims to celebrate and showcase the success of these brands.
While discussions with various cannabis beverage brands in the state are ongoing, Theory Wellness adheres to Massachusetts regulations, excluding hemp-derived THC products at this point. On-site consumption is not permitted, but the dispensary's partners can offer uninfused samples. Winstanley sees the potential for consumption lounges in Massachusetts as a driver for the cannabis beverage category.
To enhance competitiveness and consumer accessibility, Theory Wellness and its partners plan to offer their cannabis beverages at approximately 50% less than suggested retail prices for similar products. Winstanley expresses excitement about this innovative concept, emphasizing that the company is eager to gauge its success and considers expansion if it resonates with consumers.
“As much as we're doing this because it's fun and exciting and we love it, we're really doing this for our consumers,” Winstanley affirms. The beverage dispensary concept marks a significant leap forward, introducing a novel and socially familiar way for Americans to embrace cannabis – not through inhalation, but through the simple act of raising a glass.