Path to sobriety behind this Greenville THC-infused seltzer company
GREENVILLE - The idea first formed two springs ago when Billy Goldsmith was on a path to quitting alcohol and was using cannabis as a mindful alternative.
His journey led him to a childhood friend who became a business partner in what is now a thriving company — Rebel Rabbit, which produces one of the few THC-infused seltzers on the market.
The product fills a niche market, marrying a festive beverage with the calming effects of Delta-8 and-9, which are analogues of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingredient active in marijuana that causes a specific high.
The two derivatives were made legal via the 2018 Farm Bil, which made all derivatives, isomers and cannabinoids in hemp legal if the final product has less than a proscribed amount of THC.
In the 18 months since starting the company, the two friends who once walked the playground at Sara Collins Elementary have seen tremendous growth.
Today, Rebel Rabbit is available in 12 states and is carried in more than 500 locations from yoga studios to hair salons and bottle shops to bars.
The product has been particularly popular with Baby Boomers and young mothers who have found it as an alternative for alcohol.
For Goldsmith, the lightbulb moment came April 19, 2021, a date he knows exactly because it was significant in his own journey toward sobriety.
Goldsmith was walking a path away from alcohol in 2018 and 2019, at the same time balancing his healing with titrated use of cannabis — a type of soft-landing process that he said he found helpful in breaking from alcohol.
The process deepened his interest in cannabis, and in 2018 he applied for and was awarded one of 100 licenses to cultivate hemp in South Carolina.
While Goldsmith’s farming days were short lived, the experience pushed him further into research and gave him a deeper understanding of the cannabis industry.
He was intrigued by Delta-8 and Delta-9. Delta 8, often produced synthetically, is a derivative of cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Delta-9, naturally occurring, is more commonly associated with marijuana, but is legal so long as the plants remain at or less a minimum standard of THC.
Around that time, Goldsmith had also reconnected with Wylie, who had moved back to Greenville and was working for a behavioral health company. The conversations flowed between the friends, over mental health and wellness, and alcohol’s role in both.
They both realized how isolated a person who doesn’t drink can feel at social events, which often involved alcohol. Goldsmith experienced this at a friend gathering at a local brewery, where he sipped water.
“So, it was like well what would make this more fun for you?” Wylie said. “If you could smoke or vape that’d be fine, but then you can’t in some places, and there is nothing social about a gummy. But what if you could drink it?”
In the time since, Wylie and Goldsmith have spent countless hours researching and testing. They’re proud to say their seltzer doesn’t carry the all-too-familiar bitter aftertaste of most TCH-infused goods.
Moving forward, Rebel Rabbit will move away from Delta-8 and will focus more on Delta-9, as the two partners are seeking to focus on a natural product.
“This is sort of a platform for us to fight stigma against cannabis, normalize cannabis and draw more attention in a non-judgmental way to the fact that maybe alcohol is a little too prevalent and maybe we can pump the brakes and actually offer a solution and instead of just calling out the problem,” Wylie said.