With the Cannabis Drinks Expo underway in San Francisco, Colorado-based Keef Brands is showing off its new line of cannabis-infused sodas, as it bring its drinkables back to California.
"We believe, from an actual delivery standpoint, that it is one of the best ways for new consumers to consume cannabis," Keef Brands CEO Erik Knutson told Cheddar on Tuesday.
The company paired up with CannaCraft to get the beverages to market in Northern California this summer, in part because of the increased focus on regulating smoking and vaping.
"It's becoming harder and harder to find places to consume through inhalation," said Knutson. One example: "The city of San Francisco just banned vaping."
Knutson says the tasting rooms popping up in California have been a "game-changer" now that they're producing the new sodas.
"Being able to provide a social place where people can get together and consume together, I think really leverages our ability to provide that lubricant in a form other than alcohol," he said
In 2016, Keef Brands had entered into a partnership with California-based Kiva Confections, which produces cannabis-infused candies, but this recent pivot to beverages brought that partnership to an end.
"They were great partners with us, but we knew that we needed to look for a new space," said Knutson. "Beverage takes a lot of space."
The West Coast product announcement coincides with the Cannabis Drinks Expo in San Francisco (where Keef Brands is listed as an exhibitor), a sign that the beverage space is growing rapidly. Zenith Global, a food and drink consultancy, predicts the industry, in fact, will surpass $1.4 billion by 2023, up from $86 million in 2018.
Since its founding in 2010, co-founders Erik and his brother Kelly Knutson have taken Keef Brands to hundreds of retail locations in California, Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.