In an interview with CNN Business, Rick Cusick, a Whoopi & Maya board member who helped found the company with Goldberg and Om Edibles founder Maya Elisabeth, said he received word Friday from Goldberg that she planned to step away from the brand.
“It became clear to everybody that Whoopi and Maya wanted a divorce,” Cusick said, noting he was speaking for himself and not the company or its board. “How do you do that? Because both of them were very integral to what we were doing.”
The shuttering of Whoopi & Maya was first reported by cannabis website CelebStoner.
Four years ago this week, Whoopi & Maya launched with a specific focus on providing medical cannabis for people who suffered from menstrual pain.
When they started the company, Goldberg and Elisabeth saw a large market opportunity in an area that not many people wanted to address, Goldberg told The Cannabist, the Denver Post’s cannabis-centric website, in 2016.
“They wanted to include menstrual cramps in the list of things you can prescribe medical marijuana for,” Goldberg said in the interview, “but the governor said that will never happen in New Jersey because our doctors only prescribe marijuana for ‘real’ pain. The fact that people think of (women’s health) as a niche market — that he didn’t think of menstrual cramps as ‘real’ pain — tells me that there’s a lot of education to do on this subject.”
The reasons for the closure of Whoopi & Maya went beyond personal fissures, Cusick said.
When the company launched, California was still a solely medical cannabis market. Come November 2016, the state passed Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use sales. As the state folded in the medical cannabis regulations into the new program, it was difficult for operators like Whoopi & Maya to adapt, he said.
“Suddenly we’re jumping through hoops like every other company in California,” he said. “We were well on the way to [being cash-flow positive] but then we had to jump through hoops to change our packaging … and then change our packaging again.”
Working in an emerging industry proved challenging, he said.
The Whoopi & Maya board and the company’s investors will meet separately this week to discuss and determine a future for the company’s products, Cusick said.
Goldberg and Elisabeth could not be immediately reached for comment.