The energy drink backlash is here, and it's gaining momentum with surprising speed. Often concocted of melatonin, chamomile, kava extract or passion flower extract, mixed with less, um, natural ingredients–the so-called relaxation beverages promise to “slow your roll,” help you sleep, and deal with the stress of crappy jobs, and relationships. They're a lot like marijuana, without the black light posters and 2 a.m. Cheeto cravings.

When Drank, a non-alcoholic “relaxation beverage” with a throw-back to Southern moonshine, debuted last year, its drug-related branding incited a small upheaval among conservative-minded consumers. Which, of course, boosted corporate revenues for its distributor Innovative Beverage Group, 534% over the previous year. Its effects earned it the nickname “weed in a can,” and prompted lyrical odes by rappers like Lil' Wayne. As expected, many more drinks branded with drug-allusions were quick to follow. Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, billed as “the all-natural soft drink that delivers euphoric relaxation…” is the latest, and the most overt.

It might not need stating, but the brand name is reference to marijuana, though not in the rap-culture (Drank) way. No, Mary Jane's is the canned weed beverage of yuppies and new-agers, or so its marketing team hopes. “Within minutes of drinking,” they boast, “a 'calming' sensation can be felt throughout the body and mind.” Before a job interview, or a long trip. It's just like the real thing, without the unfavorable side-effects, like laziness. Also, because studies have linked the soda's key calming ingredient, Kava extract, to cancer-prevention, it would seem that Mary Jane's is indeed “good for your body and mind.” Though your yoga instructor may not endorse Mary Jane's use of phosphoric acid–the ingredient which gives the soda its yummy cola flavor–it's better than Drank (since it's not purple, right?), and it's legal.

While Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda is currently available in only very select stores and online,, will host a conference and “beverage school” in Santa Monica in December. The event will undoubtedly showcase the newest incarnations of canned weed.

LA Weekly