Exclusive: Kombucha Giant GT’s Living Foods Launches THC Beverage
The health and wellness megabrand enters the cannabis space with splashy beverage focused on quality.
GT’s Living Foods, the massive kombucha brand, is the latest company to enter the booming cannabis industry by launching a THC-infused beverage, Cannabliss, in California.
To hear GT Dave, founder and CEO of GT’s Living Foods, speak about the origins of Cannabliss is an exercise in his passionate belief that THC is a medicine, not a drug. “I truly believe that all aspects of the cannabis plant have incredible value,” he tells Cannabis Now exclusively. “At GT’s Living Foods we stand for uplifting people’s health and lives, and I believe cannabis is no exception.”
Available in two varieties—mild (“Piña Express” flavor with 3mg THC, 7mg CBD) or wild (“Ginger Haze” flavor with 7mg THC, 3mg CBD)—the company says Cannabliss is unique because the non-kombucha drink includes adaptogenic mushrooms, full-spectrum cannabis and prebiotics in the form of apple cider vinegar.
In business for more than a quarter-century, Cannabliss’ parent company not only boasts almost half of the entire kombucha category market share, but the brand also made its boyish-looking 44-year-old owner an outright billionaire. In simpler terms, GT’s Living Foods is used to winning big, and players in the increasingly crowded cannabis-infused beverage space would be wise to take note of this product’s buzzy debut.
GT Dave says Cannabliss has been actively in development for a full four years. His mother’s decades-old battle with cancer—and her subsequent attempts at self-medicating by smoking joints to help ward off the chemotherapy-induced nausea—first sparked the notion in him that there was indeed something healing about cannabis. Later, he says, in spite of his own lifelong plant-based diet and physical fitness regimen, he suffered from severe intestinal issues and sleeplessness due to stress. He reports that a month after first trying medicinal marijuana, all of his symptoms dissipated, and that landmark became another significant moment in his decision to develop a product with cannabis.
“Cannabis has always been in the back of my mind as another medicinal food that we could all incorporate into our lives,” he says. “I’m a big believer in other plant medicines, and I tend to stay away from anything chemical or man-made because I believe Mother Nature knows all. You know, you really can’t beat Mother Nature. She really is the world’s finest, wisest healer.”
GT Dave, who has repeatedly rebuffed all potential acquisition offers for the 26 years his business has been in operation, says he’s proud of his fiercely independent, family-owned and operated company. GT’s Living Foods products are currently available in more than 55,000 retailers in the US, Canada and Europe. He says the brand’s mantra, “food is medicine,” permeates every aspect of this successful venture.
But what success looks like to GT’s Living Foods isn’t necessarily what one would expect to hear.
“Our North Star tends to be something that’s typically not monetary, but monetary can be a qualifier,” GT Dave says. “I always wanted to create an elevated, refined, sophisticated experience. Cannabliss isn’t exclusively for stoners, but I also wanted to include them in the conversation because I didn’t want to be an elitist product or brand.”
That’s where the near-obsession with quality came into play for this product, and that’s why it took nearly half-a-decade to get it ready for public consumption.
“Whatever ingredients we used, we wanted to make sure that everything had a purpose,” the Beverly Hills native says. “Unfortunately, it’s very common in the beverage world—when there’s a hot ingredient—for people to just add water, flavor, carbonation and they rely on that hero ingredient to do all of the work. For us, we want the hero ingredient to be the hero, yes, but we also want the hero ingredient to have an entourage of great ingredients that on their own are fantastic.”
Cannabliss, smartly packaged and being touted as a bubbly, mood-boosting blend, will be available in dispensaries throughout California, including Catalyst and NUG Retail.
Cannabis Now asks the CEO if his product is actually meant to replace the three glasses of wine with dinner or bottomless mimosas at brunch. He was unequivocal in his response.
“Yes,” GT Dave says plainly. “Truthfully, I believe that drinkable cannabis products can replace a good portion of alcohol consumption. I don’t think anybody will ever take the stance that alcohol is healthy for you. Alcohol is a poison; it’s toxic—it wreaks havoc on your liver, on your body, causes bloat, aging—nothing good comes out of consuming it, and it’s also a depressant.”
On the flip side, he says, there’s the plant of the hour.
“But with cannabis, and other plant-based medicines, you have an elevated experience, and it actually makes you better,” he says. “With Cannabliss—for both our mild and wild offerings—we wanted to study on our own what was the intended result that our consumers and fans would experience.”
Cannabliss will be introduced at Hall of Flowers in Palm Springs, CA on December 8-9, 2021.