Celebrity Cannabis Brand Whoopi & Maya Shuts Down
The two founders wanted a 'divorce', says a member of the company's board of directors.
One of the first celebrity cannabis brands on the market, Whoopi & Maya, is ceasing operation.
The female-focused cannabis brand launched in 2016 on the California medical market. It evolved over time to sell in both Colorado and California adult-use marketplaces. Its product line included bath soak, a topical balm, and edible tinctures.
"Whoopi and Maya wanted a divorce. We had several possibilities and proposals and none of which we could get both to agree on," Cusick says. "The division is very strong within the company in that sense," says Rick Cusick, Whoopi & Maya co-founder and member of the board of directors, about why the brand has shuttered.
Sign of the times
"The industry itself had changed so much in the last seven years," Cusick said in an exclusive interview with Green Entrepreneur. "In 2016 we were a medical cannabis company so we were under the medical law. In California, they changed it to over 21, which changed the regulatory systems. It changed the thing we had to do, the packaging, the messaging on the bottle. As we jumped through that, the regulations kept changing, there was never a good place to land."
Cusick was an editor at High Times for 18 years and currently sits on the board of California NORML, as well as publisher of drugtestnews.com. It was his friendship with Goldberg that led to the development of the brand and connection to Maya Elisabeth.
"We were on a solid upward path, then the mishegoss in the industry slowed that ascent," says Cusick. "That started two to three years ago and, ultimately, there were tensions that grew from that. Originally, it was not a friendly space for cannabis. I mean by that, the regulations and the government."
"The market was swallowed by the over 21. Suddenly you had to work in that venue. We marketed the brand as medicine for women's menstrual comfort and it worked. So many women love the products and have expressed that in so many ways," says Cusick.
"It was kind of schizophrenic for us to find the company suddenly in an over 21 marketplace," says Cusick. "We had plans for it, we intended to enter that space, but there are lots of frustrations sometimes in businesses."
What does the future hold, will there be a rebranding? Time will tell, says Cusick. "The company is still intact. Whoopi has left the building. The board is going get together this week and I believe the investors are also going to meet separately and decide what's going to happen with them. The Whoopi & Maya brand as you know it will cease to operate."
"It's hard to imagine what the future's going to be."
The Whoopi & Maya website stated:
To our wonderful customers and those it may concern,
We're deeply saddened to tell you that Whoopi & Maya will no longer continue operation.
In 2016, we launched with an urgent mission: to offer safe, natural relief for period pain through the miracle of medical cannabis. We proved there's a market for this medicine and it's been our joy to offer this miraculous relief to our treasured customers. It has been our privilege to serve the community.
Though we've all come a long way, there's far more to be achieved. This is simply the end of a single chapter in a larger story, one that we invite to continue.
The other half of the company's namesake, Maya Elisabeth, is well-known in the cannabis industry as the owner of Om Edibles, founded in 2008. Elisabeth will continue to operate and run California-based Om, as usual, Cusick says.
We reached out to co-founder Goldberg for comment, but she has not replied at the time of this writing. Goldberg has been an advocate for marijuana for years, speaking to its aid in helping women with their cycles as paramount to its medical benefits. Whoopi & Maya joins a number of high-profile brands facing financial trouble, including MedMen and Eaze.