Total Beverage's megastores in Thornton and Westminster were feeling the heat from nearby grocery stores that can now sell full-strength beer in Colorado, according to store manager Rick Morgan, so he and fellow executives starting brainstorming.
"We were trying to explore new options for the store. With the loss of beer sales to grocery stores, we wanted to see what else we could do that other places weren't," he explains. "We're still experimenting right now, but it seems to be one of the next up-and-coming things."
Since March 22, both Total Beverage locations have featured CBD sections, which stock vaporizers, gummies, popcorn, drinks and even pet treats infused with the cannabinoid. Some of the drinks can be used as a mixer for cocktails, like the alcoholic bitters or CBD-infused sodas, while the relaxation shots — 5-Hour Energy-looking drinks with vitamins and 15 to 20 milligrams of CBD — could be used for a hangover the day after.
Total Beverage isn't the only booze-toting business to push CBD in an effort to lure more customers: The Nickel bar inside of Hotel Teatro serves a small list of cocktails garnished with CBD oil, and it will add it to other drinks upon request, while Argonaut Liquors also sells CBD bitters in the store's mixer section.
Larger corporations want a piece of the action, too. Alcohol giants such as Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have already inked billion-dollar partnerships with Canadian companies that make cannabis-infused drinks, while Aurora brewery Dad's & Dude's Breweria and its CBD-infused beer recipe were purchased by a San Diego-based cannabis company in February.
Although CBD's medical benefits can be oversold by product manufacturers, the compound has surged in popularity since industrial hemp was legalized late in 2018 — especially in Colorado and other states where recreational marijuana was already legal. Amendment 64 gave in-state hemp and CBD companies a head start at making all the infused goodies that Coloradans are free to buy today, while states such as New York and South Dakota still wrestle with hemp and CBD regulations.
Today even liquor distributors are dabbling in CBD-infused sparkling waters and magical hangover cures, and Morgan expects some to contact him now that the Total stores have their new sections.
"We're trying to capture some of that audience of people who want to try CBD but don't want to go to a dispensary, or don't know where to find it," he says. "I anticipate that we'll hear more now that we have these up."