A woman who truly needs no introduction, Whoopi Goldberg is one of the most beloved and recognized actresses on the silver screen. As the winner of a Grammy, a Tony Award, an Oscar, two Golden Globe Awards and nine Primetime Emmy nominations, Goldberg is hands-down one of the most celebrated entertainers. From a lifelong fascination of Star Trek that led her to a recurring role in Star Trek: The Next Generation, to a voice role in The Lion King, to her heart-wrenching, breakthrough performance in the film adaptation of The Color Purple, it is an understatement to say that Goldberg has had a varied and rewarding career.
“I’m really just about my own product, but I like Girl Scout Cookies. I think that strain is wonderful, but I can’t smoke anymore. Once I stopped smoking cigarettes, I can only do the vaping. I can only put things in my pen; so that’s how I do everything.”
However, Goldberg is more than just an iconic figure who is incredibly talented. She is also a spirited advocate for cannabis and other causes that she believes in. Throughout her career, she has been known to speak up for human rights and stand up for both women and people of color. She also used her influence to become an outspoken cannabis activist. Recently, she has turned that advocacy into action, with Whoopi & Maya, her line of cannabis-infused premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual pain relief products that she co-founded with Maya Elisabeth, the successful entrepreneur behind Om Edibles. Launched in 2016, Whoopi & Maya products have already gained a loyal following in California among women who seek menstrual relief.
“We are not trying to be big and flashy. We just want people to know that if they are having cramps and issues like that, they can get help.”
Now, Whoopi & Maya is expanding its line from California into Colorado and partnering with GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique. Available now in select California and Colorado locations, the line offers medicated raw cacao, an herbal tincture for pain relief, a lavender bath soak and a body balm that can be applied topically to help relieve cramps. Whoopi & Maya’s aesthetic appears to be simple, tasteful and above all, medicinally beneficial.
Goldberg was kind enough to give CULTURE the inside scoop on the expansion, the inspiration behind menstrual relief products and the future of legalization.
“The way I got involved was hearing people say, constantly, ‘Oh, this guy is in the industry, or this guy is doing this.’ I finally said to my friend Rick (who would say this to me all the time), ‘Is there anybody doing anything for women, for cramps or anything?’ And he said to me, ‘It’s a niche market,’ and I said, ‘It’s a niche that is half the population; that’s ridiculous!”
What inspired you to launch your own line of cannabis products? What is your history with cannabis, and why did you want to get involved in the industry?
I’ve always had cannabis products in my life because I’m old [laughs]. The way I got involved was hearing people say, constantly, “Oh, this guy is in the industry, or this guy is doing this.” I finally said to my friend Rick (who would say this to me all the time), “Is there anybody doing anything for women, for cramps or anything?” And he said to me, “It’s a niche market,” and I said, “It’s a niche that is half the population; that’s ridiculous!” So, I asked him to find someone who could help me do this, which is how I got involved with Maya, and I wanted to be sure we had something medicinal, for people who have cramps, something they could rub on, and also something for young people, women, who are getting their period for the first time. Our products don’t get you high, but they will relieve pain for lots of people.
What can we expect from your company in the future? What are your goals?
We want to make sure that we get Whoopi & Maya around the world. With Colorado being our first dispensary area outside of California, we are on our way. We are all over California, and with GroundSwell, we will be all over Colorado. Their sensibilities match ours; we are not trying to be big and flashy. We just want people to know that if they are having cramps and issues like that, they can get help. We liked the fact that GroundSwell represents a lot of different folks.
Even though women are helping to lead the cannabis industry, there aren’t many products out there that are specifically marketed for PMS and menstrual relief. Why did you think it was important to market that way, rather than just labeling your products as effective for pain relief?
Because I didn’t have it when I was growing up, and I had horrific cramps, and most people don’t believe they are real, so you are sort of getting the same reaction from different people. You even get it from women who haven’t had cramps. But for me, when you do your homework, the Pamprin and Midol were created in the 1960s and 1990s. People didn’t really give a lot of thought to that kind of pain for us until then. So I felt it was important to isolate it, because no one else was doing it; it was very generalized. So for me to participate in the cannabis industry, I felt this would be the way I could do it.
How do you feel about cannabis legalization so far? What do you think could be done better or differently?
I thought we were doing really well and then we had a big change in Washington, and having to re-educate and re-explain to people after that has been a challenge. Because if you are treating it from a medical perspective, you have to treat it a lot like penicillin; it used to be legal and got a really bad rap by and from the government, and there are all kinds of conversations people have about it being a gateway drug. Well, if you have an addictive personality, everything is a gateway drug. You have to get people on board with what [cannabis] has been able to do, especially for kids, cancer patients and women with cramps.
Now, getting the states to say these are the things that are covered treatment-wise, is the next big move as far as things are concerned, because [when it comes to what types of cannabis are medically legal], they will say it doesn’t cover this and that, so you can’t get any help for it. But not everyone gets help the same way, so you have to be a little smarter. States will say you can’t smoke it—well, some people can only smoke it. You and your doctor should have that conversation, and that’s it. However, we deal with what we have now. Some places are great for recreational, too. I just prefer to look at it from a medical perspective.
What is your favorite strain?
I’m really just about my own product, but I like Girl Scout Cookies. I think that strain is wonderful, but I can’t smoke anymore. Once I stopped smoking cigarettes, I can only do the vaping. I can only put things in my pen; so that’s how I do everything.
As an iconic film star, how do you feel about the representation of women and people of color in TV and film since your career started? Do you think representation has improved, and how can representation improve even further?
The answer to both of those things is, there is a long way to go. Yeah, a lot of things have changed, but I don’t really stop to look at what is happening. But, it’s kind of great to see more and more women in the cannabis business. I met with these wonderful women from CBD For Life, and that’s all women-run. They are reaching other women and coming around wanting to know how we do what we do. As far as Hollywood is concerned, you really have to talk to the people who cast the movies; that’s who it is. Anyone could have been in La La Land. So, lots of things have changed, lots of things have not.
What can we expect from you and your company in the future? Do you have anything new in the works?
Right now we are in Colorado, and it’s great. Eventually we are going to move into other states and work with the legislators. Most people don’t have menstrual cramps listed as something you need relief from, and we’d like to see that change. So, aside from trying to do world domination, no not really much [laughs]. We’ve also been adding to our line, and we have new containers; you can pop ‘em in your pocket book. It’s kind of great.
You have a pretty interesting collection of shoes that you’ve made public. How did this interest come about, and what is your favorite pair?
I couldn’t tell you what my favorite pair was right now, but I looked over one day and saw that all these women had really great clothing, looked really svelte, really great, and I thought, “Gee, maybe I should find some fun shoes or something.” So I started doing it to make myself laugh. They all exist at work. I don’t have them at my house, ‘cause at my house I just wear Birkenstocks. It’s crazy!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We are going to be all over Colorado! We are really happy that we found GroundSwell, and we’ll be making partnerships hopefully in places like Reno, Nevada, Oregon and wherever we can get to. This is what we are trying to do, because I believe every woman should have relief from cramps, so we are kicking ass and taking names. We used to just have a tub of our product; we had tinctures and soaps, but now you can put the new, smaller version in your bag, so you can just rub it wherever you are. You can have it at work since it’s in a smaller jar, and then productivity comes back because women aren’t missing two days of work every month if their cramps are bad. We are trying to save the world—one rub at a time.