A Guide to Those Cannabis-Infused Shots

Shots with cannabis in them.

Cannabis shots pack a potent punch. Image Credit: By Anna Moskvina on shutterstock.

From airplane whiskies to Five-Hour Energy Drinks, Americans have always had a soft spot for tiny beverages that pack a potent punch. Now, many of these diminutive drinkables are getting the cannabis treatment.

One of the most recent examples comes from Washington-based Ionic Brands. In July, the company launched a new product line called Zoots Premium Infused Edibles, which includes 10 mg and 30 mg THC-infused shots paired with “natural enhancers” like yerba mate and guarana for energy. While these products will only be available at cannabis dispensaries in Illinois (which recently became the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis), a number of other companies around the country have also unveiled their own offerings. 

These include Quigley’s Cannabis Shots (whose THC-rich products are billed as “the fastest way to get stoned on the market,” according to their inventor), ENJOY Cannabis (who claim their shots contain 10 servings for some reason), and S-Shots (which released a line of THC- and CBD-infused “wellness shots” earlier this summer).

The size of these shots is generally consistent — all the brands above offer a 2 oz. product, though some also carry larger sizes — but their prices and cannabinoid content can vary significantly. For example, ENJOY’s 50 mg CBD shot (which has only traces of THC) tends to run around $10, while Quigley’s 50 mg THC shot (which has only traces of CBD) costs around $15. 

Many of these shots, especially ones containing THC, are only available in the states where they’re made, due to restrictions on interstate cannabis commerce. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, you can often find these products on the websites of local cannabis dispensaries and delivery services, though this can vary depending on the laws of your city or county.

Much like chocolates and vape pens, many cannabis shots are formulated for specific purposes — Zoots, for example, offers products known as “Kick Back” to promote relaxation and “Yippee Ki-Yay” to boost energy. They’re also available in a constantly-expanding variety of flavors, from lemon and Mandarin lime to wild berry and pineapple mint chamomile. 

The Pros and Cons of Cannabis Shots

The single most obvious advantage of a cannabis shot is its convenience — it’s hard to imagine a product that’s easier to use or transport. They’re also quite discreet, even compared to other types of edibles like THC gummies. While a curious coworker might ask to try one of your colorful bears, they’re less likely to request a sip of your shot (one would hope, at least).

Their range of custom cannabinoid ratios is also appealing for a number of reasons. ENJOY’s product line provides a useful illustration: Not only do they offer a sativa-dominant shot to “stimulate your mind and give yourself a boost,” but also a 3:1 THC-to-CBD “love potion” to spur sexual desire and a 1:1 THC-to-CBD for those who seek “an [easy-going, enjoyable] high for both mind and body.” 

However, cannabis shots also come with a number of downsides — not the least of which is their scattershot availability. Products containing THC are only available in states with legal or recreational cannabis, and only at licensed dispensaries. Even those that contain just CBD are also becoming harder to find, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gets serious about regulation and places like New York City impose bans on infused foods and beverages.

These shots are also plagued by a problem that’s common to all cannabis beverages — limited bioavailabilty. This refers to the amount of a cannabinoid that can be absorbed and processed by the body. Since the molecules of THC and CBD are too large to pass through cellular barriers, many infused drinks end up delivering only a fraction of their total cannabinoid content (though some innovative companies are trying to devise technologies to solve this problem). 

Another thing to keep in mind when using cannabis shots, especially ones with THC, is their unpredictability. This is because when THC is absorbed through the digestive tract and metabolized by the liver, it can be converted from its “normal” form — known as delta-9-THC — to a “supercharged” form known as 11-hydroxy-THC, which can create an intense and long-lasting high. 

For that reason, it’s worth keeping in mind the favorite mantra of cannabis experts everywhere: Start low and go slow. It’s a good idea to start with a fraction of the recommended dose, and to wait at least a few hours to see how you feel after consuming it.

Alexa Peters
Alexa Peters
Alexa Peters is a Seattle-based freelance writer who covers wellness, culture, and music. Alexa’s work has appeared in Leafly, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, Thrillist, and in Audiofemme, where she is a regular music columnist.

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