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People have used cannabis-infused intimacy oils for thousands of years, but they weren't sold in the commercial market until recently. The renaissance was the brainchild of Matthew Gerson, founder and co-CEO of Foria, a California-based cannabis company.
Gerson says that his peanut butter and chocolate moment happened six years ago when a good friend schooled him on all the health benefits of cannabis oil.
“I immediately got a medical marijuana card, got some THC oil in a gel tab, bought some coconut oil, and decided to make some lube in my kitchen,” he says.
Image credit: Foria
This wasn’t some random happy accident. Gerson had previously worked for a company called Sir Richard’s Condom Company that makes chemical-free, vegan condoms, so the sex product industry was in his wheelhouse.
First to market
After doing some research on cannabis and talking to physicians, Gerson realized there was no company making weed lube for women. “There wasn't really a female niche even identified yet, which is hard to believe now because there are entire brands, like ours, that really focus on feminine wellness,” says Gerson. “But six years ago, no one had made a product specifically for the purpose of female sexual enhancement.”
Today, Foria is a powerhouse cannabis company that makes products infused with CBD and THC. One of their bestsellers is Pleasure, which uses a similar formula to the one Gerson invented in the product’s halcyon days. How did it all come to be?
Enhancing pleasure, reducing pain
Before going to market with his new product, Gerson called on some of his friends from his Sir Richard's days to test it out. “I had a pretty broad audience of very sex-positive and sexually productive people to call on and say, “Hey, you want to try this? Do you have any friends that are dealing with conditions that you think that they would like to try this?”
He began collecting anecdotal evidence that the lubricant not only deepened the pleasure and experience leading up to and around climax, but it also helped women with painful medical conditions such as vulvodynia or vaginismus, he says. “They had pelvic conditions that would lead to painful penetration. Or they were menopausal or postmenopausal women who were dealing with a set of conditions that were making intimacy uncomfortable.”
Leveling the playing field
Gerson was surprised at the lack of sexual enhancement products for women in the market. “There were 22 FDA-approved drugs for male sexual dysfunction when I made the first batch of this, and there were zero for women. What does that say about our species and our failure to equally address female sexual needs in relation to male sexual needs? Especially as we age,” he says.
Telling a good story
After getting a ton of positive response, Gerson realized “this wasn't going to be a bathtub gin exercise; I was going to have to really build a proper business around this.”
He called his product Foria and got a medical dispensary permit to sell it online. At first, it was hard to get the word out about the product. They had no marketing budget and they couldn’t advertise for a cannabis lube on the major digital platforms such as Google or Amazon.
What they did have was a great story.
“The intrigue around cannabis for sexual enhancement has a broader reach to a broader audience of people than cannabis in general,” says Gerson.
Word of mouth began to spread, and the media couldn’t talk enough about cannabis-infused lube. A writer for Cosmo wrote: “I tried that cannabis lube and got high as a horny kite.” Comedian Colin Jost even joked about Foria on SNL’s Weekend Update.
Gerson explains that because of the laws around medical and recreational marijuana, it would be impossible to sell Foria everywhere. But he’s used that seeming obstacle as an advantage to grow a community organically.
“With our brand, we happily encourage other people to make their own [lubricant], either at home or to start their own brand.”
Gerson also has relationships with a number of competitors in the cannabis-infused sex product space. “We love that there is a burgeoning industry around this because we cannot serve the entirety of the demand – nor would we want to, because the diversity of sexual responses is such that the more products, the better,” he says.
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