Before Mathew Gerson was the CEO of Foria - the world’s premiere cannabis lube brand - he spent a decade studying to be a Buddhist monk. "I didn’t become a monk, and I still had the same aspirations to work, through my contributions, toward some forms of suffering that I thought were avoidable."
After choosing a secular life instead, Gerson found work that was socially important to him in the form of Sir Richard’s, a condom company he founded that was, in his words, "like Tom’s for condoms."
"Working in that field," Gerson recalled to Civilized. "I was able to learn a lot about sex positivity and gender and identity, and gender inequality in and out of the bedroom and in and out of the lab."
These ideas led Gerson to ruminate on the issues of sexuality, and the ways human sexuality is tied to our global well-being. He found himself compelled to work on a product that would address an inequity he had grown acutely aware of — the "pleasure gap," or disparity of emphasis placed on the importance of women’s pleasure. Thus the idea for Foria Pleasure, the popular cannabis-based lube was born.
Cannabis and female pleasure, have, according to Gerson, long been intertwined. "We certainly didn’t invent the weed lube," he explained. "There has been a tremendous amount of documented cases of medicine women, midwives, witches using cannabis as a salve for intimacy, pre- and post-natal, menstruation."
Cannabis is particularly accessible to the female reproductive system because "vaginal mucosa is extremely absorbent," Gerson explained. "We know we have a dense amount of CB2 receptors in the pelvic regions. Those receptors are bonding with the cannabinoids." For this reason, Gerson and the team at Foria found that the women who used Foria were reporting not just increased pleasure, but also decreased pain.
Beyond the long history of cannabis being used medicinally, Gerson sees a broader story in the way that the plant has historically been repressed. "One thing that is very compelling is our culture’s attempt at controlling and oppressing cannabis falls in lock step with attempts to control and repress female sexuality." As one example of this phenomena, Gerson pointed to the attempts in the 1930s of Harry J. Anslinger to vilify cannabis in his speeches to Congress by warning that marijuana would lead white women to want to have sex with black men.
"Fear of empowered female sexuality, and fear of cannabis—these things go hand in hand," Gerson told Civilized.
Foria is, at present, fully on track to help women reclaim their orgasms. Foria Pleasure has become a hit among women who enjoy what Gerson describes as the product’s "Oh, wow factor." Its new CBD lube combines cannabinoids with other natural aphrodisiacs like cacao, kava, and vanilla for its own brand of heightened experience.
Still, a comparable product for men’s pleasure is something that continues to elude the scientific cannabis community.
"I’ve been in this industry for five years, and I’ve spent countless hours tinkering," Gerson said of his quest to create a male-centric pleasure product. One of the roadblocks, according to Gerson, is that male genitals aren’t as absorbent as female ones. "I haven’t been able to crack the code," Gerson conceded. "I’m sure there’s someone out there who will figure it out." While an effective product for use on the penis has not been developed, Foria has developed a product called Explore, "A suppository for non-gender specific sexual exploration through anal."
Through each of Foria’s offerings, Gerson remains focused on what initially drew him to the overlapping fields of cannabis and sexual health — a desire to facilitate balance on a grander social scale.
"Pleasure is absolutely a gateway to a whole host of challenges that our species faces, many of which because we’re just out of alignment with our own sexuality. We’re out of alignment with each other. That leads to all kinds of destructive behaviors. In a weird roundabout way, working in the condom industry led me to the cannabis industry, and they were all predicated on the same motivating principle — trying to get to the underlying roots of the things that are causing a tremendous amount of discord and disharmony on the planet."