Whoopi Goldberg is one of the most formidable talents in the entertainment industry, and she’s got the EGOT to prove it. But Goldberg is also a proud member of another popular American industry—the one selling state-regulated cannabis products to licensed patients.
“I’m really proud of our work in the cannabis industry, and I really feel like we’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Goldberg told The Daily Beast recently. “We’ve been focusing on the medical aspects of cannabis and saying to people: ‘Listen, you can go get high. You have Weedmaps, and you can press that button and have somebody deliver Cookies & Cream to your door. But our products aren’t about that. We’re trying to make people more productive, to eliminate an issue that’s been around for as long as women have been around.’ And the people are hearing us.”
Sure enough, Goldberg’s female-focused cannabis brand Whoopi & Maya is gaining market-share in California’s bustling topicals market, speaking to the popularity of its infused bath soak and salve products, the latter of which is Goldberg’s favorite. (“I live on the Rub,” she said of the salve. “It’s amazing for people with back problems or muscle spasms or runner’s knee.”) The company—a collaboration between Goldberg and Om Edibles founder Maya Elisabeth—also has a popular line of infused edibles, which includes raw cacao and tinctures.
But while Goldberg is one of legal cannabis’ most recognizable ganjapreneurs, Whoopi & Maya products are still only available in 320 of California’s dispensaries, according to a brand representative. That’s about to change, as Goldberg and Elisabeth expand Whoopi & Maya—to Colorado, the first state in the U.S. to legally sell marijuana. “Colorado was rocking and rolling when we started looking to expand, and these guys came over and said, ‘We’d love to talk with you about this,’” Goldberg said about Whoopi & Maya’s Colorado licensee RMZ Colorado, a sister company to GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique, a respected Denver dispensary she refers to as “top of the line” for the team’s dedication to details.
Colorado represents Whoopi & Maya’s first step outside of their familiar California environs, where Elisabeth is based. GroundSwell will manufacture the Whoopi & Maya products in its Denver kitchen and dispensary. By mid-November, it will be available in 15 other Colorado outlets, including Sweet Leaf Pioneer in Eagle and Green Stop in Log Lane Village. They’re looking to expand further in 2018.
A resident of New Jersey, Goldberg credits her business’ success in California and subsequent, rapid expansion into Colorado to the quality of her products and the underserved population of female cannabis aficionados: “It’s not too hard for me (to manage this from the East Coast)—but what is hard is that when it comes to menstrual cramps, my governor in New Jersey doesn’t believe that’s real pain. He’s said that a couple of times.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has opposed most attempts at widening the state’s medical marijuana program, including an effort in the state legislature last year to add menstrual pain to the list of qualifying conditions. Of course Christie isn’t the only politician out there still wagging a finger at the legalization movement, which has been steadily gaining steam since Colorado and Washington kicked off the recreational era in November 2012.
“I know (Jeff) Sessions is out there, using his old-school thoughts about marijuana,” Goldberg said, referring to the U.S. attorney general’s famously quipping “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” “But the states aren’t going for it,” Goldberg continued, “and the people aren’t going for it. This is the new penicillin. There are so many things it helps, why wouldn’t you want this in our lives?
“You know, not everybody drinks, but we still have bars and shit—so why not dispensaries? Mr. Sessions, you’re going to have to rethink how you want to do this, and the states are saying that. These arcane ideas don’t have a place anymore. If you’re OK with oxycodone being given to people, why aren’t you OK with cannabis being prescribed to people? It’s mind-boggling that people can ignore something that is this important.”
While Goldberg knows plenty of men who use her products, she is proud that Whoopi & Maya edibles and topicals cater specifically to women and their specific, underserved pains. I spoke with Goldberg about her cannabis line more than a year ago, and I’ll always remember it as the day I learned what dysmenorrhea is.
As I wrote then: “Medical dictionaries utilize only two words in their succinct dysmenorrhea definitions: painful menstruation.”
When I asked Goldberg if she’d noticed any progress in men recognizing these singular pains, she skipped a beat before responding.
“We’re having discussions about it, sure, but the people who are in charge seem to continue on in this vein of, ‘We’re not smart enough to know what we need.’ I don’t think this particular administration gives a flying rat’s ass what women need. They’re not the least bit interested. I’ve listened to politicians talk where the man said, ‘We only prescribe for real pain.’ And I’m like, ‘What do you mean, real pain? It’s not real pain if I get a period, but it’s real pain if I kick you in the nuts?
For Goldberg, the most important contribution of her booming weed business is that it starts a conversation about women’s healthcare, one that has long been dismissed. “It’s frustrating, because the conversations we’ve having among ourselves as women are about how we can help more women with medical issues. But we need everyone to talk about this, too. It’s fine if it’s something you don’t want to do, but if it’s helping other people, why wouldn’t you want it available?”