It’s 4pm, and I’m on a date in a Fremont brewery in Seattle. Our conversation has just taken a turn for the intimate as we start talking occupation; I work as a matchmaker in the dating industry, and my date works as a salesman in the legal marijuana industry. At the axis of marijuana and romance, we’re discussing the merits of weed-infused personal lubricant.
“You should try it out,” my date offers, as if he were recommending a burrito place.
He’s a glorious representation of the Pacific Northwest and its burgeoning legal marijuana industry: likely the resident “hipster” in his former frat years, he is tatted up to tasteful perfection with an unmaintained Peaky Blinders haircut and a penchant for climbing mountains at ungodly hours of the morning. His decision to start selling weed, ironically, was prompted by the need for health insurance after a motorcycle accident that knocked out his upper row of teeth, whilst en route to his then-job at a sensory deprivation tank facility.
“I just really needed to grow up and get into something more stable,” he tells me.
Since 2012, when Washington and Colorado trail-blazed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in America, your stoner neighbors of yesteryear have been donning suits, emerging from basements, and getting to work. Without decades of an established legitimate business structure, the legal marijuana industry has presented great opportunity for female entrepreneurs to thrive in executive positions, angling to be the “first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men.” It’s uncharted territory, the millennial Wild West, a veritable Burning Man of possibility. And our brave stoner pioneers and pioneeresses are exploring those possibilities, armed with an array of imaginative THC and cannabis-infused products.
According to a report by New Frontier Data, the adult recreational industry is expected to grow to $11.2 billion in sales by 2020, up from $2.6 billion in 2016. With that kind of momentum, mainstream investors are taking note, and Big Marijuana is cross-pollinating with other industries, likely and unlikely. Sex accessories are one such example. Recently, infused personal lubricant for women from brands like Velvet Swing, Bond, and Cannabliss has surfaced and garnered popularity.
“The lube is geared towards women,” my date explains, “because the vaginal walls are more absorbent than, like, dick.”
I’m intrigued, and days later I find myself at Diego Pellicer, Washington’s premier dispensary, to investigate. Despite its location between sketchy overpasses and KFCs, Diego Pellicer is a far cry from a handshake exchange in the back of a ‘92 Subaru. An alluring woman with impeccably sculpted brows checks my ID at the entrance and leads me into a fecund oasis of green plants, glass cabinets, well dressed attendants, and even a bronze statuette of a voluptuous woman in a robe, lording over the compound like the fertile Mary Jane herself.
My strong-browed guide walks me through the selection of merchandise, explaining the various strains and which ones will get you hella baked. When we arrive at the display of weed-infused personal lubricants, she drops her voice to recount to me with hushed Christmas-morning-excitement the specifics of her personal experience with the products.
“OMG it’s amazing,” she tells me. “The first time I used it was by myself. I really wanted to just treat myself, you know?...The second time was with a partner. I just put a little on before dinner and by the time we got down to it, or like, he got down to it, everything just like flowed better and I felt so relaxed, you know?” She lets out a long sigh. “It revolutionizes the game.”
Her passion sells me. The gent who rings me up explains that the lubricant doesn’t get you high in the traditional sense; the THC and CBD combination stimulates increased blood flow and sensitivity to deliver longer and stronger orgasms. He throws me a supportive wink. This man is a legal marijuana concierge.
If societal freedom can be measured by the distribution of orgasms, it doesn’t reflect well that the FDA approved Viagra in 1998 but didn’t get around to approving the first sexual enhancement pill for women until 2015. The relative merits of these pills aside, the timing of their existence demonstrates the perceived marketability of male sexual pleasure versus female sexual pleasure. It’s possible that resources are now being allocated towards female sexual pleasure in the marijuana industry because, after all, the vaginal walls are more absorbent than, like, dick. But it begs the question: as the industry moves towards more mainstream avenues of consumption, will it bring with it this enthusiasm for female sexual pleasure or will these wet dreams be left with figurative blue balls in the beta stage?
Many of these brands, like Velvet Swing, are created for women by women. There’s always been a market for female sexual pleasure. But with shifting social landscapes and more women in power seats in the industry, it’s finally starting to be okay to acknowledge and tap into it monetarily. The legal marijuana industry is just getting started. It’s the future. And evidently the future wants women to come.