These Are The Most Pivotal Players Within Cannabis And Hemp Infused Beverages

As cannabis 2.0 makes its way to retailers, future outlook of this new wave of products showcase diverse opinions.

Certain commentators are optimistic about cannabis foods and beverages filling up the shelves. Others are not.

Canada and 2.0

Those who remain positive place emphasis on the fact that 2.0 products can leave significantly higher profit margins. However, those on the low key point towards Canada’s unimpressive experience with 2.0.

Canada legalized 2.0 products in October 2019, exactly one year after the nationwide legalization of the plant. However, a few months in, companies are not seeing the results they expected. Restricted government regulation and a lack of product availability account for part of the failure. 

While these reasons are circumstantial, Canada’s experience can prove valuable lessons to understand how these products might impact the U.S. market in terms of regulation, supply-chain and consumer demand.

Critical Players in Cannabis Infused Drinks

The current global health crisis makes the difficult art of forecasting, even harder. 

However there’s no doubt that efficient people make good business.

That’s why Benzinga compiled a list of the most pivotal players in cannabis infused beverages:

Jon Cooper

Photo courtesy of Jon Cooper

Jon Cooper is founder and CEO of Ebbu, an infused technology company from Colorado that got acquired by Canopy Growth CGC for $297 million in 2018. The company invented the world's first water soluble cannabis infused beverage solution.

"Being the first research and development team with world renowned scientists to have developed a water soluble solution for drinks in our Genesis product was a major achievement in this industry and one we are especially proud of,” Cooper said.

Ben Larson

Photo courtesy of Ben Larson

Ben Larson is the CEO of Vertosa, a company responsible for most of the nano-emulsification and infusion of all California beverages. They now have the first certified organic hemp infusion in the market.

As a science company, Vertosa is focused solely on B2B, and works with over 50 clients and partners in the hemp and cannabis markets. 

Previously, Ben co-founded Gateway, the Oakland-based cannabis startup accelerator, and is a Director and Mentor for the Founder Institute, where he formerly managed global operations. 

"At Vertosa, we can infuse just about any product, but our entire team is very bullish on the infused beverage category. It's an entirely unique experience compared to other consumption methods, providing for more efficient absorption without having to smoke or vape. Beverage in general is just a very social form factor and is broadly accepted around the world. This is the future of cannabis consumption," says Larson.

Tracey Mason

Photo courtesy of Tracey Mason

Tracey Mason is the co-founder and CEO of House of Saka, the first portfolio of infused beverages with grapes 100% sourced from Napa Valley.  

Tracey Mason has worked in the CPG and adult beverage sectors for over 25 years, holding high management charges at CannaCraft, Purple Wine and Spirits, Goelet Wine Estates/Clos du Val Winery, Treasury Wine Estates, Diageo and Epic Wines.

"Infused beverages like House of Saka Pink and White will not only forever alter the way the world consumes cannabis, but perhaps most importantly, they will forever alter the overall perception of cannabis in general and that of cannabis users," told us Mason.

Aaron Silverstein

Photo courtesy of Aaron Silverstein 

Aaron Silverstein is the co-founder & Managing Director of BevZero, one of North America’s leading suppliers of non-alcoholic wine and de-alcoholization services for wine and beer.  

“We see cannabis-infused beverages as not just the future of cannabis but also as the future of beer and wine. Consumers are moving away from alcohol and seeking alternatives with lower calories and without the health-repercussions of alcohol, cannabis-infused beverages are the perfect answer,” says Silverstein.

Warren Bobrow

Photo courtesy of Warren Bobrow

Warren Bobrow is a mixing veteran who is author of six books on his own brand of mixology, one of them on infused cannabis drinks.

Warren is a Forbes contributor on infused beverage and vices. He recently founded Klaus Apothicaire, an infused beverages brand coming to market this year.

Macai Polansky

Macai Polansky is the co-founder of Spacestation Mfg, a cannabis-infused beverage manufacturer in California offering contract manufacturing, as well as automated and scalable production capabilities for the infused beverage category. 

Spacestation Distro, also co-founded by Polansky, will be a beverage-centric cannabis distributor offering first-mile, compliance testing, and finished product storage. The company is currently finalizing licensure.

Polansky is also the founder of the Cannabis Beverage Association (CBA) and a founding member of the California Cannabis Courier Association (CCCA).

Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock

Photo courtesy of Cann

Anderson and Bullock are the co-founders of Cann, a brand of cannabis-infused drinks that launched the first microdosed beverage product in California, selling over 275,000 cans. 

Anderson spent his career in consumer packaged goods at Bain & Company, and recruited his colleague Bullock, who also worked in private equity and investment banking in companies like Allen & Company and Bain Capital.

“Once all the confusion about THC and CBD clears up, the largest opportunity in the infused beverage space is for brands and products that displace unwanted alcohol consumption. In a world where 8 out of every 10 adult drinkers want to moderate or reduce their alcohol intake, THC drinks like Cann are the only products that effectively give you a mild social buzz without the booze,” said Anderson.

Eric Schnell

Photo courtesy of Eric Schnell

Eric Schnell is the co-founder of Mood33, a company that markets next generation beverages to consumers seeking the benefits of cannabis in a new delivery format.

In his long career, Schnell has helped launch several brands including Steaz, an organic tea company; I AM, a nutraceutical lifestyle brand; MetaBrand, an R&D shop focused on organic beverages, and BeyondBrands, a "Conscious Products" consulting agency and accelerator.

“This new industry causes brands to pivot frequently. Founders must be able to adapt quickly, keep funding strong enough to cover runway and find unconventional ways to communicate the brands’ value prop amidst so much confusion on what benefits are sustainable enough with cannabis and hemp infused beverages, to create a billion dollar brand someday, which is the dream most all of us startup entrepreneurs strive to achieve,” commented Schnell.

Featured photo courtesy of Mood33


Meet the biggest cannabis industry players and make deals that will push the industry forward.

Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.

Join us September 13-14, 2022 at The Palmer House in Chicago, IL.

Posted In: Aaron SilversteinBen LarsonBevZeroCannCannabis 2.0Cannabis BeveragesCanopy GrowthCBDebbuEric SchnellHouse of SakaJake BullockJon CooperLuke AndersonMacai PolnaskySpacestationTracey MasonVertosaWarren BobrowCannabisEntrepreneurshipOpinionMarketsInterviewGeneral