I attended the O’Cannabiz 2019 conference in Toronto on a spring-like day in April. I had arranged with the PR team to interview Carla Costen, a Sexologist, Psychotherapist and entrepreneur as well as Angela Mustone, Entrepreneur and Founder of High On Love, a company that makes cannabis and hemp infused sensual products.
Initially the interview was to be one-on-one with each woman, but as luck would have it, we decided in the Green Room that we would do a tandem interview, and it was a serendipitous decision. The beautiful, passionate female energy that permeated the interview came through with lots of bawdy comments and full belly laughs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
LA: Angela, you’ve worked in the adult industry for a while now. Have you seen it change over the years?
AM: The adult entertainment industry is now highly dominated by women whereas it used to be completely dominated by men. Sex shops used to be super ugly, with big black dildos and darkened windows that made the interior look foreboding and dingy. Nowadays, sex shops have become more women and couple friendly by changing the environment and the type of products they sell. The cannabis industry very likely could go the same way. I launched High On Love in October of 2018 and in the time between now and then, I have seen a huge shift in the industry in female participation. I feel that by 2021 we’ll see a significant change.
LA: Do you think that women largely drove this shift in the adult entertainment industry by being more open about their sexuality?
AM: Absolutely. With women finally being able to work and have their own income, they are more confident to express themselves.
CC: Also, the laws changed in the adult entertainment industry to empower women to be their own bosses. They no longer needed a “pimp” to get them business and protect them. We’re seeing this happen in the cannabis industry as well. The fastest growing consumers of cannabis are women. And what Angela said is right – we’re seeing the shift from when you used to buy your weed from the sketchy guy down the road to now when you can buy your cannabis in a beautiful retail environment that is clean, bright and fresh with actual customer service.
AM: I was in some dispensaries in California talking with the owners about carrying High on Love and I have to tell you, these dispensaries are gorgeous. They’re like shopping at Sephora. The main challenge that we have in Canada is the branding issue, although I think that will change very quickly, just like the liquor laws changed in the 50’s. We do have to be patient as we are the first country in the world to try to do what we are doing and we tend to be more conservative than Americans.
CC: Really, you think Canadian are more conservative than Americans?
AM: Yes, with sex, with money and the way they spend! But in reality, it all depends on which state you live in. Some states are very conservative. For example, there are still states where sodomy is illegal, and yet, they tend to be the biggest buyers of vibrators and dildos
CC: Yes exactly. And it’s interesting how, the more conservative the community, the more kinky and underground their sexuality becomes.
AM: An interesting stat – did you know that 90% of British women own vibrators? Germans are also big purchasers of sex toys and adult entertainment.
LA: Angela, your products are currently formulated with hemp seed oil, is that correct?
AM: Yes, I have a hemp seed line and I also have a line that contains CBD and THC that I currently only use for marketing purposes.
LA: Is your end game to have both CBD and THC products on the market, as well as the hemp seed product?
AM: Yes. I launched my hemp seed line deliberately to build my brand before cannabis topicals become legal. I’m excited about how it’s gone so far. I have a PR company in New York and I’ve focused on ensuring my branding is on point and is well known amongst our target audience.
LA: How does cannabis work to enhance a woman’s sex life?
CC: The endocannabinoid system was only discovered in the 90’s despite the fact that it’s the largest system of receptors in our body. It’s incredible that we only discovered this in the 90’s, but the truth is, we only gave the clitoris a name in the 80’s, and the g-spot as well. There are still (male) doctors out there who say the g-spot doesn’t exist.
When the endocannabinoid system started getting recognition in the 90’s, scientists discovered that it regulates and modulates most of the systems in our body. Things like appetite, sex drive, reward system, etc. There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies: CB1 and CB2. When we consume cannabis what happens is the compounds in the cannabis interact like a lock and key system with our endocannabinoid system.
The two parts of our bodies that have the most receptors are the brain and the pelvis. Women have more receptors in their pelvis than men so when we consume cannabis we’re activating our endocannabinoid systems. People consume cannabis for many different reasons. Some people consume it for pain relief, some for relaxation, but what we’re seeing is a huge surge of people talking about how cannabis and sex go really well together. There are a few different reasons why, especially for women.
Topicals especially help dilate your blood vessels and draw the CB1 and CB2 receptors into the pelvis, which then activates blood flow into our pelvic areas.
LA: What consumption methods work best to increase pleasure?
CC: You can use topicals, suppositories, you can smoke it. For example, many gay men are using suppositories for anal sex because it enhances sensation and decreases pain.
I also see women in my practice who are suffering from vaginismus and dyspareunia which are all presentations of pain. For both these conditions there is a physiological and a psychological component. When we talk about how we can integrate cannabis one of the number one things I suggest is integrating a cannabis lube or a topical of some kind into their lives to help decrease some of the pain and pressure, and help move past some of the physiological issues so we can work through some of the psychological components.
LA: Are there medical studies that show that cannabis works for these purposes?
AM: Fortunately, research on cannabis is gaining steam at this point. Many of the larger companies are doing studies on issues such as menopause. I come from the pleasure industry so that’s why I started High On Love and why I focus on the pleasure as opposed to the pain aspect of sex+cannabis.
I developed a product line made in Canada for China and when I was developing this brand I had my chemist make a cannabis lube. I couldn’t believe how fantastic the result was. I had a major a-ha moment. As I travelled to different trade shows women would also come up to me to tell me how my products helped them with pain, specifically THC-infused products. CBD is a great anti-inflammatory so a blend of both work really well for my products.
CC: I would say that cannabis is the most successful substance a woman could take to enhance her sex life. We all know about the blue pill for men, and then they came out with a pink pill for women, which was a disaster. Cannabis is femininist sacred plant medicine. It is the biggest enhancer of sensation and increases pleasure for women, hands-down.
LA: There’s a physical aspect, but there’s the mental aspect as well. Is there an element of consuming cannabis with your partner that comes into play?
CC: Absolutely, that’s what I love about cannabis. It offers an opportunity for partners to connect through negotiation and ritual. That’s what allows you to expand your connection with yourself and with another person. It’s not like pharma, where a guy takes a pill, and suddenly there’s a boner and off you go! Cannabis allows for a lot of other aspects to come into play that enable sharing and ritual with your sexual partner.
I have a lifestyle brand called The Everyday Goddess that empowers women to embody an unapologetically passionate lifestyle and embrace the goddess within. When I speak with different women across the country I explore who that goddess is and how we can naturally and holistically enhance our our lifestyles.
AM: When did you start to promote cannabis with sex in your practice?
CC: I’ve been a medical cannabis patient for almost 5 years, so as soon as that happened, I started offering support to my patients. I work with doctors through a referral system to help prescribe the medicine to my patients.
AM: Have you seen a difference in your patients since legalization in 2018? I live in Quebec and for something that’s supposed to be legal, it’s never been so illegal.
CC: Yes! I feel like once the second wave of legalization comes in we’ll see a shift. Pre-legalization the conversation with my patients was really around seeking relief with medical cannabis. Now, recreational, adult-use cannabis really brought different conversations to the table. People now feel more comfortable being able to talk about it and we’re seeing companies respond. Companies like High On Love who are women-led, serving women, I think that’s beautiful. We no longer have to endure being mansplained to, we now realize that when you get a vagina you get an opinion!
LA: Tell us about your own self-care routine, how do you stay healthy physically and mentally?
AM: A lot of sex! It’s very important. And of course exercising, eating right and loving myself. It’s all about striking that balance, but also, I love what I do and that’s very healthy for me. I’ve been in the position where for many years I was miserable and I did what I did for the money. Now I don’t work a day because I love what I do. I’m happy with myself and my brand.
CC: My self-care is about self-love and self-pleasure. It’s not just about taking a bubble bath and calling it a day. For me, self-care is about setting proper boundaries and knowing what my limits and boundaries are, and being able to express those. Practicing that is big-time self-care for me. I consume cannabis for self-love. I practice in sacred sexual rituals for myself. I eat right, I spend time with my friends. I socialize. I also love what I do. I think what oftens happens is people hit a wall and they realize they don’t love their lives. If you wake up every day not loving your life, or not loving what you’re doing, all the self-care in the world is only going to help you cope, not actually shift or transform any of that.
Wise words indeed from two goddesses in full flight.