In our Women & Weed survey, we found that 6.4 million women in the U.S. want to learn more about cannabis and sex. If you feel like you've been overlooked by the sex product industry up until now, you're definitely not alone. As with most things in life, the consideration of men has long surpassed female needs - in this case with regards to sexual pleasure and pain-relief. Currently, there are 26 FDA approved products for male enhancement and only one for women. But getting down is looking up thanks to Foria, a brand whose infused products are shaking up people’s sex lives.
One of the primary setbacks in the creation of cannabis-centric products is the lack of scientific investigation about the effects of the plant’s compounds; state and federal regulations have left little opportunity for this kind of research, and innovative brands have instead looked to a mix of historical and anecdotal evidence to craft their offerings. While changing laws will eventually improve this system, Foria is taking the feedback from its customers to heart, and their words are helping drive the brand’s products ever forward.
Kiana Reeves, Director of Communications, spoke to us about the brand’s approach to product development, how Foria came to be and where it’s headed, noting that, “If we in the cannabis industry collectively focus on getting the proper scientific feedback so that the cultural construction and relationship with cannabis changes, I think that’s hugely important.”
What’s the genesis of Foria as a product/brand?
Our founder, Matthew [Gerson], had a company called Sir Richard’s, which is a condom company…. They were going around and talking to different people and a lot of the feedback that they were getting and lot of the things that they were seeing from being in the sex product industry is that there was so much attention and focus on male sexual pleasure. At the time, I think there was 20 FDA approved drugs to help improve male sexual enhancement, and none for female-bodied people.
[Foria] really came about organically through a conversation about cannabis oil. Matthew had been working with the plant, and someone had mentioned the word oil and he had a lightbulb moment where he thought, “Well it does all these things – I wonder if it could work topically?” So he did a small batch test run with community and friends, and had such an amazing response that it really grew from there.
The literature, when you look at historical documentation – even though we don’t have a lot of scientific documentation about how it’s working – there’s mentions of using cannabis for menstrual pain relief and pain relief during childbirth, and these kinds of female-body related issues for a really, really long time. There’s a really wonderful paper about cannabis being used in gynecology and obstetrics, which goes back thousands of years; it mentions all different cultures from around the world, and how they were medicinally applying and using cannabis in those ways.
That all fed into this idea of, we have this socially, case-studied, historically-documented background of how cannabis has been used, and Matthew just started digging around. So Pleasure became our first product and from there, there was so much positive response – people again and again were emailing and reaching out saying, “This is amazing, I’m having pain-free sexual intercourse for the first time in ten years,” or it’s having all sorts of different effects – “I’m having multiple orgasms and I haven’t had an orgasm, thank you so much.” And then there were these side-notes where people were saying, “Oh, and it’s doing this....” So we started getting feedback that it was relieving menstrual pain and cramps, so that’s how we’ve led into our product development. All of our product formulation and ideas have come from customer feedback, which has really been our direction that gives us new ideas.
How does a Foria product work?
One thing we like to say is that there’s a lot of research about cannabis being done but there’s not a lot of definitive research about how it’s actually working, particularly in our arena, which is the topical genital application of pleasure products. We like to attribute some of the actions to the plant’s magic and mystery itself. That said, the way that I describe it to people if we’re talking about the sensual enhancement from [our products] Pleasure or Awaken, is that the vaginal mucosa is very absorbent – it’s some of the most absorbent tissue in the body aside from the rectal tissue, and we also make products for that.
When used topically, [our products] stay really localized and it doesn’t go through the same delivery system as it would orally. When it’s not being taken orally, you don’t have the same psychoactive “head high”, so that’s one of the main reasons why people might like to use Foria products, particularly if they’re not wanting the “head high” but want the pain-relieving benefits of a topical application, or the sensation enhancing benefits.
Something else that we think that’s happening – and again we say “we think”, because it hasn’t been scientifically defined so we have to postulate from research done on other body parts and how it affects the body in other ways – is that THC can act as a vasodialator. When you put it on the genitals and allow it to sink in to the vaginal mucous membranes, it’s enhancing the blood vessels, it’s increasing arousal – it’s able to enhance sensation and pleasure because of the localized awareness of the tissues. We think that’s part of the response to our products, that it’s helping relax muscles, it’s helping increase the good feeling and the positive sensation, and it’s also having a little bit of an analgesic effect through the pain-relieving properties, if there is pain associated with intercourse.
Tell us about your customers.
We have a wide age demographic – certainly on our platforms like social media, where we can monitor it, it’s a younger demographic. But once people hear about our products, there’s a real application at any age. We have tons of women writing us saying, “I’m having pain-free sex post-menopause for the first time,” or “Thanks for making me feel juicy and luscious again. I can really enjoy sex in this way.” There’s so much that comes up particularly for women and the changes in their body throughout their lifetime, that I think that all of our products can be applied to all ages, and they’re really beneficial for different reasons.
We feel like it’s really the tip of the iceberg; cannabis is now getting re-framed in the public mind and as that happens, people are going to be more and more open to understanding different applications of how herbally and medicinally it can be used.
You’ve touched on how nascent research about cannabis still is, which is obviously a factor in product development. As legalization comes to pass across the U.S., where do you think the company can go?
We’re taking it step-by-step, really. We’ve been in the THC world for a while now, and now we’re really focusing on our CBD line so there is that is that immediate access to people around the U.S. and worldwide. State-by-state regulations, manufacturing and shipping across state lines make it a more complicated situation so in terms of growth, we’d love to be in every medicinally and recreational state possible as soon as we can, but with our capacity as a small company, we aren’t quite there yet.
Early on this year, we have a few amazing CBD products coming out and then later in the year we’re going to launch some more “paired” products, that will go along with those THC products. We’re just going to keep growing as the river flows.
Try Foria Awaken with Van der Pop's Pleasure Set! Perfect for Valentine's Day.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Story by Odessa Paloma Parker