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A Women’s Cannabis Brand Tries to Navigate the “Gray Area” of CBD

Xula is a Mexican company that focuses on women’s health issues.

Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey belongs to a generation that has witnessed the transformation of marijuana from a key target in the war on drugs to the darling of venture capital firms.

When Aggrey began a modest grow business in the upscale Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco two decades ago, a neighbor forced her to close it down. “I just personally didn’t come from a place where I had someone to bail me out if I were to be raided,” says Aggrey, who was born in the US to parents who had immigrated from West Africa. 

Aggrey currently resides in Mexico City where she co-runs Xula, a company that uses cannabinoids to create solutions that address a variety of health concerns, along with cannabis researcher and advocate Karina Primelles. In order to address a range of needs, such as relaxation, pain reduction, and gut health, the company introduced a line of CBD-only tinctures under the name Solo Hemp this year in the United States.

It stands out because of its emphasis on the needs of women. With 500 mg of CBD, one of its products called Happy Period treats stomach problems, backaches, and cramps. A stronger version of this, Happy Hormones, improves mood.

Our products are centered on people with wombs, Aggrey says. People with a uterus, people who have cramps, people who go through hormonal imbalances, folks that go through menopause.

Women’s bodies, she adds, experience “these discomforts—all these beautiful cycles,” issues that the cannabis market seldom addresses, making women an “extremely underserved” market.

According to a poll conducted in 2019, about 900,000 British women lost their employment as a result of menopausal symptoms. Women in that age range are probably in a crucial phase of their careers. These losses add to the gender wage gap since they are more likely to be qualified for high management positions. It’s detrimental to businesses as well: Reenita Das, a partner and senior vice president for healthcare and life sciences at consultancy company Frost & Sullivan, estimates that menopause-related productivity reductions can cost more than $150 billion annually globally.

Businesses who sell cannabis-derived products—whether they employ CBD, the less well-known cannabigerol (CBG), or cannabinol (CBN)—face a unique set of difficulties since they are a member of a new, highly regulated market.

The business walks a fine line in the US by telling customers what’s in its goods while avoiding making any medical claims.

Because we’re not pharmaceutical and we’re not a supplement, we’re in this weird gray area where we can’t write on the product page or the box or any material that says ‘menopause,'” Aggrey says. It’s a medical word, so it’s a medical claim. We can’t say ‘menstrual cramps.'”

As a result, Xula’s products have fun names like Moon-a-pause, Calm + clarity, and Lights out, a sleep aid. You can learn about the advantages of the cannabinoids and plants the company utilizes in blog posts and an index on its website. To give customers a confirmed list of the herbs included, Xula has a third party test each of its products.

A lot of firms now promote CBD as a beneficial, plant-based substance that is healthy and restorative. Depending on whatever marketing materials you read, it can treat nearly every ailment experienced by contemporary humans, including anxiety, persistent back pain, muscle aches, dandruff, and even chapped lips.

However, preliminary study has given rise to hope that the scientific community would support the testimonies. When given a single daily CBD pill for 12 weeks, teens and young adults with treatment-resistant anxiety reported that their symptoms had decreased by an average of 43%, according to research published in August by the Australian youth mental health group Orygen. According to research conducted by FN Media Group, the global CBD oil market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.9% between 2021 and 2029, from $9.86 billion to $136.64 billion.

Straight out of college in 2005, Aggrey started her job working for the World of Possibilities radio program in Humboldt County, California, the “pot promised land,” as she refers to it.

She didn’t take long to resign from her position and pursue her dream of becoming a “OG weed head.”

She realized it right away.

Some women I knew kind of took me under their wings and showed me the ropes, she says. And that was kind of my crash course into agriculture. 

She began her legal, fully licensed professional indoor grow operation in San Francisco under Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996.

She relocated to Mexico City in 2014. Mexico was considering adjusting its marijuana laws at the time. On behalf of four petitioners, the country’s Supreme Court made a decision in favor of recreational use in 2015, which sparked a protracted discussion regarding legalization and regulation.

She was introduced to Primelles in 2018 by a friend.

We had absolutely no idea that [the industry] would open up here in Mexico, she says. Once it did, that’s when Karina and I started the R&D.

In October 2020, Xula began offering its products for sale in the US.

The 2018 Farm Bill has made it possible for them to legally cultivate and market their organic hemp and botanical goods in the US. However, neither hemp nor CBD are accepted as pharmaceutical medications or as legitimate herbal supplements.

We are not able to advertise claims of what the product can do as freely as other supplements like fish oil or ginkgo.

Aggrey and Primelles are conscious of their unique position in the developing business. After decades of demonization and widespread incarceration of Latino and Black people, they are women of color who own and run a business that sells ancient remedies.

I think the wisdom of Black, Latin, and indigenous people informs the cannabis culture and is maybe the foundation of the culture, but there is no access for us. It’s expensive, Aggrey says. And even as a consumer, you are not marketed to. No one cares if you’re Black, over 40. It’s like, ‘Bye.’

Xula eventually wants to market marijuana-infused goods. According to Aggrey, they are more efficient and well-liked.

Honestly, my co-founder and I really just want to sell THC. We want to sell weed, Aggrey says. We want to do it legally because we know that it is the more potent cannabinoid; and when it’s present, even with others like CBG and CBN, it just works better.

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