DES MOINES, Iowa — While sitting at the bar at Lua Brewing in Des Moines, you’ll see a big selection of beers and other drinks on tap.
But if you don’t drink alcohol, or simply want to try something different, the brewery has added a new product to their menu.
"There’s a lot of people today that either don’t drink at all or don’t drink for that day, so we just wanted to have more options for people," Lua Brewing Co-Founder Scott Selix said. "We did a lot of research into figuring out if we could do this legally, and we realized we could."
That research led to the creation of "Climbing Kites," Iowa’s first cannabis-infused “social beverage,” containing both CBD and THC.
While it has generated a lot of excitement for the business, the release of the sparkling water beverage has sparked questions about how it’s legal to make and sell in Iowa, where recreational marijuana is illegal.
In 2019, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation giving Iowa’s agriculture department the power to regulate “consumable” THC products. As a result, Hemp products became legal so long as the THC is capped at 0.3%.
"We have a mobile food truck, a Climbing Kites mobile food truck, and that is licensed as a hemp retailer. And as a hemp retailer, we can sell it," Selix explained.
The drink can’t legally be made in Iowa, so Lua Brewing does have to jump through a few hoops in order to produce the product. They send the ingredients up to a co-packer in Minnesota, who then sends it back to Iowa with Lua so it can be sold.
Despite CBD and THC-based products becoming more popular in Iowa, there is a common misconception that using these products is illegal.
Ashley Hartman, chief strategy officer at Central Iowa Vapors, believes this is because the legislation was passed during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading some to never hear the news.
"We get asked every day, 'How is this legal? I didn’t hear anything about it,'" Hartman said. "And I think a big reason people didn’t hear about it is because COVID was happening."
While the local businesses selling these products hope to get the word out about their availability, they also want Iowans to know about the wide range of uses for THC products in one’s day-to-day life.
"It caters to, for example, daytime energy focus, your sleep, or even your pain," Hartman said.