In a whirlwind of top talent and innovation, the Whoopi & Maya brand was born. It began with actress Whoopi Goldberg, who had the unique idea to make a line of cannabis products specifically for women to address the pains and mood swings that come with menstruation. She called then associate publisher of High Times, Rick Cusick, and told him her idea. It all sprang from there.
Rick assembled a team of top pot players, including Maya Elisabeth, whose infusions had already won her seven Cannabis Cups at the time. Maya is a purest in the purest sense of the word, and brought a level of spirituality and oneness to the project. She also made sure that all ingredients were human- and animal-friendly.
No animal testing, no GMOs, no subpar ingredients, almost everything organic: just good-for-the-soul remedies that get women in the mood to work, play, and even enjoy their time of the month.
Based in California, the products remain medical in nature, and have not yet opened up to the recreational market, but Whoopi & Maya have big plans on the horizon and this is one company that you want to keep an eye on. From a mostly female-led collective to products that can’t be found elsewhere, they’ve risen to be the cream of the crop.
Maya was kind enough to take some time with Hydrolife to tell us more about how she and Whoopi connected, what the atmosphere is like in the California cannabis scene, and more about the wonderful concoctions of Whoopi & Maya.
Hydrolife: What was your initial reaction when approached about the Whoopi & Maya line?
Maya: My first reaction when I was approached about the Whoopi & Maya line was absolute shock, excitement, anticipation, and an overall feeling of luck. I kept thinking ‘what are the chances?’ I grew up watching this woman's movies and never when I was watching them was I thinking ‘you and I will be partners someday!’
To take it one step further, I never was thinking you and I will be making cannabis medicine together someday, and even one step further… I never knew that she and I would be making menstrual relief cannabis products together. To this day, the feelings of joy, excitement, and luck are still with me.
What is important about this women-dedicated line of products?
I believe it's very important that this line is geared towards women because the menstrual cycle is something that women deal with for many years of their lives, and often suffer silently without choices for relief. It's really important to have a healthy, effective, delicious, and enjoyable arsenal of tools. There are only positive side effects for women on the go. A woman doesn't get time off from her life because of her cycle and we have to keep moving so we can pay our bills. The importance of this is almost beyond words.
What are the products geared for?
Our products are geared for menstrual relief. Cannabis is helpful for physical discomforts as well as mood support, and it makes it the perfect life-hack for every cycle and dealing with PMS. All of our formulations are very deliberate, and they are made with intention for specific needs. One of the ways that we achieve that is by using different herbs that have been helping women with menstrual discomfort for thousands of years.
Do you take any extra measures to ensure the medicinal benefits?
We do take extra steps to make sure that our product is the best product we can deliver. A series of lab tests all the way through to make sure that our dosing is on point and that we are free from molds and pesticides.
We also do our best to get wild-crafted herbs and use almost all organic ingredients. Our packaging is sourced from America and we try our absolute best to make the most sustainable decisions possible for ourselves and everyone involved.
What types of ingredients can we expect from the cacao?
Our chocolate is made with six organic, raw, vegan, fair trade, gluten free ingredients—all that you can pronounce. You could literally rub it on your skin (and then lick it off) and you would probably have some benefits. That's the philosophy behind both companies (Om Edibles as well, more on that to follow)—if you can't put it on your skin, don't put it in your mouth and if you can't eat it don't put it on your skin. We believe that our edibles and topicals are only as good as the ingredients we use to produce them and that you really get out what you put in.
How about the other products?
You can expect the same quality in all of our products. We use pharmacological-grade Epsom salts in the soak that are created in a controlled environment because we understand they're touching your most intimate parts.
We also only use therapeutic grade essential oils and almost all our ingredients are organic, cannabis included, even though we're not allowed to say so on the packaging because it's federally illegal.
Going one step further, we use organic biodynamic cannabis. Another benefit of pharmacological-grade salt is that no damage is done to the Earth to source them. We really like that. It also spares you from contaminants in the environment.
Do you plan on expanding to the recreational market?
We are really excited about the recreational market, but we are also watching with caution as we definitely are a medical cannabis company first. That being said, I do believe that all use has medicinal value, even recreational, and I'm a big supporter in people being able to find safe access to cannabis in anyway possible.
We are doing what we always have done: paying close attention, consulting with experts, and making the most informed and healthy decisions possible.
How does Om Edibles fit in?
I think it's safe to say that Om Edibles and Whoopi & Maya are sister brands. Without Om, Whoopi would've never found me. It's definitely the foundation. Whoopi & Maya is a celebrity line that's geared towards women, so as different as the brands are, we still share the same philosophy for a quality of standards for both brands.
We both view and treat cannabis as a superfood and healing herb and we believe that when cannabis is combined with other super foods, healing herbs, and nutritionally dense ingredients, a superior medicine is made. That's the same exact philosophy for Om. Om has been around for more than eight years and is still kicking strong to this day. I see very bright futures for both companies.
What special skills do you and your team bring to the table?
I'm blessed to say we have a fabulous production crew and we all have a few things in common. Number one, we all enjoy cannabis responsibly and medicinally and reap the benefits daily. It's so important to understand the value of making medicine because all of that intention and energy actually ends up in the products.
We like responsible, positive, healthy attitudes of people that consider this work and will work and enjoy and understand the responsibility and value of it. We mostly have women working on production, except for one man, and it's not that we're against hiring men, it just kind of ended up that way.
How did you form your team?
Our team has been formed very naturally. Our head of production was a trimmer with me for years. This is kind of the evolution of our trim scene. Now we are in a commercial kitchen and everybody gets paychecks, which is very exciting for someone who has watched this industry grow.
We usually hire friends and family, or people that we know from a recommendation, because it's actually quite a responsibility to work in this environment. We only work with people that we know and trust, and that usually comes by way of a friend’s recommendation. We try our best to keep it in the family.
How did the collaboration between you and Whoopi first materialize?
The partnership with Whoopi all happened because of High Times publisher emeritus, Rick Cusick. Because Om has been competing in competitions for so long and had some success, when Whoopi reached out to High Times with her idea, Rick began scanning his Rolodex with the sales team and realized that we are an all-female collective that has nine Cannabis Cups and three Emerald Cups. He decided to reach out to us to see if we were the people to talk to.
At that point, I said yes, we absolutely were and I reached out to my herbalist friend Alexis Gandara, who owns a company called Rooted Grounds. She's an extremely talented herbalist medicine maker who has had a line of tincture and rub for menstrual discomfort that does not contain cannabis, but does contain many healing herbs.
For years, we've been talking about putting our medicine together, so once I got the phone call we went from there and two of the four products are multi-herb collaborations between her and I and the other two are original Om formulations.
What can we expect next from the company?
You can expect lots of new things from us! We have plenty of things in the works that I can't tell you just yet, but I will let you know we have a roll-on for our topical coming out very soon and we definitely have something in store for the men.