Kombucha has taken the wellness world by storm, but Oz Medicann founder John Leith is firmly invested in bringing the beverage to the world of cannabis via his hemp subsidiary, Hemp Oz.

Hemp kombucha, the brand’s signature drink, has already been featured on SBS’ Medicine or Myth with promising early-stage trial results. 

Leith told Cannabiz how his journey with hemp began four years ago when his niece was diagnosed with epilepsy. Not long after that, Leith himself was diagnosed with type two diabetes. It was then that he came across cannabis as a medicine. 

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Oz Medicann founder John Leith: ‘We are a medical company that has a beverage section.’

“I was overseas and was recommended to take hemp with a few other herbs as well as kombucha for my type two diabetes. I took it, came back [to Australia], and discovered that it was illegal in 2016. My niece is now in recovery, but she was struggling very badly with her epilepsy. The only thing that worked for her was medicinal cannabis oil.

“If you’d have asked me a number of years ago if I would have been interested in [cannabis] as a business or even been involved in it, I would have laughed at you, because it would have been far from what my background was,” he said.

“I wasn’t in the beverage business and I didn’t have any experience with it. Beverages and Hemp Oz came along because it was something that was recommended to me in terms of putting a concoction together to support my type two diabetes. I did that and, actually, it worked. It reversed my type two diabetes. 

Leith’s decision to enter the cannabis industry was a direct result of seeing the tangible benefits that the plant could provide patients, including what he describes as the “incredible recovery” of those close to him.

“I was concerned that there were a lot of other people who could benefit from this, but didn’t have the access. At that time, four years ago, it was even more difficult to get access. So we have come a long way.”

After making the decision to push forward with the creation of Hemp Oz, a subsidiary of the Oz Medicann Group, Leith and his team set about bringing on board an in-house lawyer to discuss and eventually advocate for the legality of hemp and hemp products.

“That essentially is the reason why we were first to come on to the market with a beverage that was infused with hemp for consumption, but we still had to wait for a year before that happened,” he said.

Medicine or myth?