Mathew Gerson: Foria Pleasure
Please allow us the pleasure to introduce a new cannabis industry innovator – a unique social entrepreneur who is making bold strides with his company Foria Pleasure in order to rally for cannabis as a powerful medicine to aid in women’s sexual equality. This thought leader pioneered a particular path in the medical marijuana industry. He not only dipped his toes in the pond but is now successfully running through rolling waters. He uses words like co-op-petition instead of competition and speaks of his business in a manner that only emits positive energy towards future growth and change. The passion to better women’s quality of life led him and the Foria team to develop the world’s first marijuana infused personal lubricant designed specifically for female pleasure. The man behind this astounding product and expanding brand is Mathew Gerson, Wellness Director and founder of Foria Pleasure.
The Foria product is spicing up bedroom nightstands across California, changing the lives and relationships of many. We had the opportunity to pick Gerson’s brain with a few questions. Enjoy this tantalizing interview, and please don’t hold us accountable for your next credit card transaction…
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
The deciding factor for me was an accumulation of many factors. I don’t know if I could identify one in particular, except that cannabis produces such a wide range of benefits to the human experience – specifically more relevant to my particular background: sexual health and wellness. Five years ago I started a condom company based out of Boulder, Colorado, which afforded me the opportunity to travel around the country and speak to people about their sexuality and the variety of challenges they were facing. I had the opportunity to see first-hand what was happening in our culture pertaining to sexuality and witness that there was this quest for greater wellness and pleasure within that realm. What was revealed to me was really a lack of beneficial medication for women facing sexual malfunctions. If you look back at the historical records, cannabis has been utilized in so many ways, some being for sexual pleasure either as an aphrodisiac or as a sensual enhancement to increase sensitivity. So, I thought to myself, “Hmm, there is really an opportunity here to explore and create a sexual medicinal product specifically designed for women.”
If you look back at the historical records, cannabis has been utilized in so many ways, some being for sexual pleasure either as an aphrodisiac or as a sensual enhancement to increase sensitivity.
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
The most tangible experience would have to be from my condom company, Sir Richard’s Condoms. It’s an all-natural, vegan condom with no chemicals. It has a social mission as well: we give one condom away for every one sold. We are trying to bring sexual health and wellness to people in the world who have challenges with condoms by providing quality condoms for free in parts of the world where people can’t afford them. That was a very important part of my personal career in terms of understanding entrepreneurship by trying to take an idea and transform it into something that’s real and coheres to a consistent story and vision. Honestly, it is one of the most important things one can do early in life as an entrepreneur, to clarify what your purpose is in regards to your chosen business path.
People, myself included, want to be inspired. We want to feel like the time spent at work, which is a large slice of our life, is filled with meaning. To work in the sexual pleasure and medicinal industry affords an entrepreneur, such as myself, a tremendous amount of opportunity to cultivate that meaning. We are introducing a medicine that is enhancing people’s lives.
So with this being said, be clear about why you are getting into this space. Will you make money? Of course. Do things with integrity, then the money will follow. I feel this crucial element is essential because we are providing medicine. Our ultimate rule: the patients come first! When money comes first, your prospective customers or patients will feel it. It can be felt through the brand and the people who are involved. In my humble opinion, it kind of disrupts the flow of energy from the plant to the patient. At Foria, we are acting as the catalyst in the channel to extract what’s good and healthy in this plant and provide it to people in a way that can benefit them.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
We are really excited to try and do everything we can to meet the increasing demands for sexual medicinal products. The responses from women and men who’ve been partaking in Foria has been powerful and we are doing everything we can to increase our reach. We are pursuing opportunities to move our products into other states. Our legal team is looking very closely into Colorado, Washington and Nevada to see how we can work within those states’ laws to provide Foria.
Obviously, Colorado and Washington are very unique because of their legalization. There is a host of other states that we’d like to get into and that’s the challenge right now. When you have a medicinal product like Foria, that everyone seems to want, the only people that can currently purchase it are the ones who live in California with a medical recommendation. This is a huge road block for us but I’m confident enough that we will figure something out in the future.
We are also establishing relationships with some really great scientists to develop a new line of medicinal products to really get into the specificity of sexual issues that cannabis might help address. New formulations that could have an even greater benefit are definitely in the works.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
Joyful! I’m having a really great time. I’m telling you, I’ve had a bunch of businesses and I try to do businesses that have some sort of social value, but I have never experienced anything like this before. There is just such a tremendous amount of good energy and good will in this space right now. It is really exciting to be an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, especially during its infancy stage.
What do you consider your weakness as an entrepreneur? Your strength?
My weakness is that I am over-idealistic and my strength is that I’m over-idealistic.
How are you differentiating yourself from the competition?
We are being exactly who we are because we currently don’t have any competition. We don’t necessarily have to compare ourselves to others in the space because we set the standard from day one: providing the highest quality product while maintaining that same standard no matter where we go or how fast we grow.
I came from a family of physicians. Having integrity in regards to standardization and potency while providing the cleanest, best possible end product for the user is of utmost importance to us. So, we encourage what I like to call co-op-petition. You know there is competition when it’s all about the money. There’s co-op-petition when you realize that the market is so large that there is actually room for other individuals to join the space. We certainly welcome other people who have the adequate skill and knowledge to create good medicinal products to come join the industry while still maintaining the same standards that we are trying to establish.
You know there is competition when it’s all about the money. There’s co-op-petition when you realize that the market is so large that there is actually room for other individuals to join the space.
We definitely do our best to try and educate our users on the specific differences between the products that are lab-tested, properly purified and transparent about their source versus those products made by companies who don’t have the same amount of attention to those details. Eventually, we will handle formal clinical trials on new medicines that we manufacture.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
By far, it’s been patients. It’s been the flood of emails we get every day, the personal interactions we have with patients at dispensaries as well as the people who contact us and tell us about how this medicinal product helped them with their particular health issues. These are people who have been struggling for countless years and have tried various pharmaceuticals, which had various types of frightening side effects, and now they are presented with the opportunity to use cannabis: an innocuous plant without any toxic side effects in the human body. It’s been a great relief to these people and has brought them a great joy which has even extended into their marriages or relationships.
There is nothing better than being in a position where you get to sell a product which the people you serve are constantly encouraging you to create more of the product and have more options for them to enjoy.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My grandmother used to tell me, “Do what you can, while you can, before you can’t anymore.” It’s quite broad but there is truth to that. I like to look at the cannabis space in a multi-generational view in that what we are doing today, trying to break trail, is paving way so the next generation that comes to this space will have a clear path of which direction to approach and improve. There is so much yet to be discovered and we will look back in 50 years and be much further down the road in regards to understanding how this plant can help us learn how to live healthier with each other and perhaps even our planet.
What’s your newest knowledge about the marijuana industry?
I just found out that Nevada, which has just recently passed medical marijuana, is going to be honoring the medical recommendation letters of individuals outside Nevada. So, if you go to Nevada and you’re from California or another state that allows medical marijuana and you have your recommendation with you, then you will be able to purchase medical marijuana in Nevada.
This is the first time in the industry that we are seeing cross-state collaborative efforts, which is a very positive sign. I have a hope that one day we’ll have a western block: Washington, Oregon, and California; doing that would allow for the movement of medicine between states, which would lift a lot of burdens off of young enterprises like ours, in allowing us to serve a greater amount of people without the obstacles of having to recreate our brand and product in every state. It’s still a small step but it’s an important first step that I believe Nevada is leading the way on.
If you could rewind time to 5 years ago, how would your business be different?
We would likely be in a similar situation, although we’d be in every state that has medical marijuana available to their residents. We would likely be established in all those states and probably have a full line of medicinal products addressing an array of ailments and we’d have done our part in the research of how to best service those specific dysfunctions.
What will we be seeing from you and Foria in the coming future?
Obviously, we are limited by the current status of marijuana being where it is and we hope to see either this administration, or the next one, take a clean look at the medical benefits of a substance that they claim has none. When they do that, and it’s just a matter of when, the opportunity for funding and deep research will come to the forefront and Foria will be right there waiting and willing to work with the chosen institutions to do some real research on how this can be made more beneficial to human sexuality.
Other than hopefully seeing Foria in every state, which is definitely something we wish to do, we have a couple of small groups that are testing some new formulations. For example, one is more specifically geared towards men and may help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.