Cannabis and sex—it used to be so simple.
People smoked a joint and then got on with it. But what happens when the cannabis is so strong that instead of focusing on the lover, the partner is drooling while staring at a spot on the wall or contemplating as to how the sponge in that cartoon can talk?
“They’re not used to the potencies that are out there and they’re kind of getting steamrolled,” says Founder and co-CEO Mathew Gerson. “In the bedroom, getting too high for a lot of people is not the best thing to do for an enhanced intimate experience. It doesn’t necessarily bring you closer to your sensations or closer to your partner. You kind of overshoot the mark a little bit.”
Six years ago, Gerson founded lubrication company Foria to bring cannabis into the bedroom in a way that focused on pleasure, specifically on women’s pleasure. His line of lubricants, oils and even suppositories—yes, you read that right—have become immensely popular around the world, some designed to enhance pleasure, others to dull the pain that many women experience with intercourse.
Condoms to cannabis
Few people outside of lifelong growers took a direct path into the legal cannabis industry, but Gerson’s path was even more circuitous than most.
After years of studying to be a Buddhist monk, he was living in a cave in the mountains outside of Telluride, Colorado, ruminating about the human condition and the suffering around the globe.
“I was looking at the social issues around human sexuality and some of the downside results of the lack of protection, sexual education and access to contraception in parts of the world where people couldn’t afford condoms,” recalls Gerson, 44.
So he left the woods and started a condom company, Sir Richard’s, free of glycerin, parabens, spermicide and petrochemicals, vegan-certified and PETA-approved. For every one sold, Sir Richard’s donates a condom to a Third World country.
“Our tagline was, ‘Doing good never felt better,'” says Gerson.
After he sold the company seven years ago, he became interested in medical cannabis, which was booming in Venice, California, where he lived, and throughout the state. He started learning about cannabinoids, terpenes and the myriad other aspects of the plant just emerging from decades in the underground.
“My relationship with cannabis over all those years did not include that kind of sophistication. That was really fascinating to learn about all these other benefits and how they can modulate your experience. I was really interested in getting into that and learning more.”
Oils, lubricants and more
“When I heard about [cannabis] oil, my mind being somewhat primed to think of oil as a lubricant, that was sort of the a-ha moment for me personally that led to the creation of the first batch of what became Foria Pleasure and opened up that portal for a focus on female wellness in general,” says Gerson.
The idea was, can cannabis be used to make women feel more sexual pleasure? As it turned out, it was not a new idea at all. His research suggested that women may have been using cannabis in such a way for centuries (he believes the classic image of a witch on a broomstick stems from women inserting cannabis oil vaginally.)
“In the bedroom, getting too high for a lot of people is not the best thing to do for an enhanced intimate experience. It doesn’t necessarily bring you closer to your sensations or closer to your partner. You kind of overshoot the mark a little bit.”
The lubricant was designed to be applied vaginally at least 15 minutes before sex—what he calls the “marination period”—enhancing sexual pleasure, decreasing dryness and leading to more fulfilling orgasms. Though it contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t enter the brain, leaving the mind clear. Women immediately took note.
“Being the first company to bring together the chocolate and peanut butter of sex and drugs, we got a lot of attention from women around the world,” he says. “It turns out the benefits of using cannabis as a topical for women in the bedroom were much broader and more profound than we could have imagined.”
The follow-up product targeted not pleasure, but pain. To help women who experience pain with intercourse or from female conditions like menstrual cramps or endometriosis, the vaginal suppository Foria Relief used THC and cannabidiol (CBD) to dull the pain, again without psychoactive effects. The results were so encouraging that a Harvard professor has launched a study of 400 women to look at how the cannabis product eases menstrual cycle discomfort.
Next up was a rectal suppository to enhance sex in that region or ease pain. This time, Gerson admits, “it was not a product that flew off the shelves,” Americans not being very inclined to embrace rectal delivery methods.
“I used to say, ‘We’re trying to change the world one asshole at a time,'” Gerson laughs. “It is a challenging delivery system of cannabinoids, but it’s one that makes a lot of sense and once you do it once it’s not such a big deal.”
First psychoactive product
In 2019, Foria plans to release its first psychoactive product, a vape pen that will deliver a microdose of THC, so that when it’s time for love, the consumer isn’t face down in a bowl of Cheetos.
For now, the THC products are available only in California and Colorado, though expansion to other legal states is also in the works for 2019. CBD-only products Foria Basics, a daily tonic for general wellness, and Foria Awaken, a lubricant, are available for order on their website and can be shipped anywhere.
Whether it’s going in their lungs, their vaginas or up their rectums, people have put a lot of trust in Foria products, something that makes Gerson proud.
“A lot of people have built a lot of trust in their relationship with us, because we would first say, ‘Hey, you can trust to put these products on a very sensitive part of your body,'” he says. “We have a really high benchmark as to how we approach these products.”