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The Cannabis Conversation: a European perspective on the emerging legal cannabis industry.
Welcome to The Cannabis Conversation with Anuj Desai where we explore the new legal cannabis industry by speaking to the people who are helping to shape it. On today's show, I've got Meg Matthews, who is synonymous with the Brit Pop scene from the 1990s but Meg is also a former music industry PR events planner and designer turned entrepreneur and advocate for the menopause.
Meg also writes and regularly features on TV speaking about menopause and has a line of CBD products, hence why she is on the show today. She is very kindly hosting and has a lovely dog who may also feature on the show. Thank you, Meg, for having us.
Thank you for coming to my house.
Thank you for having me on your podcast. This is Zeke just so if you hear a dog, everyone, that's the reason why.
Cool. Thank you. Yeah. It'd be great to hear a bit about what you're up to and how you got into the CBD kind of side of things.
Right. Okay. Me getting into the CBD world was maybe a year ago or so. A girlfriend of mine from New York came to stay, my best friend, and at night she was taking a couple of drops of stuff in this water and I was like, "Oh, what are you taking? I want some of this." She was here for two weeks and I started to take the CBD and basically I was like, "Wow. I've got no aches and pains" after about three weeks, I was sleeping really well, I basically ... Things started to change that I was like quite amazed that this tiny few drops of something was actually changing for these ailments that I was having through menopause.
Basically, what happened was she gave me the brand that she was taking and then I went to look for it in the UK. I went on this CBD line or whatever in the UK. I went on this website and they'd sold out. The guy sent me and said, "Do you want this other one?" I said yes, I'll have this other make. He said, "Just as good but it's not as branded. This is a very well known one, this is not."
He put it in the post and then he called me to say, "Oh my God. I'm so sorry. I've sent you the wrong one." By fate, we started talking and then I just said, "Look, I really, really believe in CBD for women and the menopause symptoms. I love it so much that I want to bring my own range out because I know that women with the migraines, with the anxiety, with the aches and pains, not sleeping ..." It just ticked every box. That's how it happened.
From an accidental phone call I was able to bring my own products out.
Brilliant. We're going to talk about that in a little bit more detail in a minute. Maybe we'll start at the top and forgive this very male ignorant question but maybe we start at the top and just briefly tell us what exactly menopause is.
Yeah. Okay. You're not saying you're ignorant because I was like 46, 47, I had never even heard the word perimenopause. For me, I was like, "What? Perimenopausal? Are you mad?" Never heard of that word, never heard the word post-menopausal. I had heard the word menopause. I had no idea there was 34 symptoms.
The reason that I became an advocate and the reason that I decided to be a spokesperson because I had it so badly, I didn't leave this house for three months, I had the worst anxiety, I never slept, I couldn't hardly walk. I thought that all my '90s Brit Pop days of partying hard had caught up with me so I was too embarrassed to say to people I've forgotten where I put things, my nervous system is shattered.
For me, it was completely all I thought was those days had caught up with me because my mom used to say to me, "They'll catch up with you one day. Don't you worry, all this partying?" I'd be like, "Yeah, whatever. It's Brit Pop. We don't care. We're just invincible." Okay, of course, now I'm nothing like that at all anymore but back in those, 20 years ago, that's what it was about.
I thought it was all about that so I didn't think ... Because, to me, the menopause was just a hot flash and don't have a period. Number one, I had the Mirena Coil so I wasn't having periods so how would I know? Number two, I never got a hot flash. I just had all these symptoms that were nowhere, anywhere written about that that was going to be the start of my menopause.
Then I was just like, "Wow." Then 30 million women in the UK today going through this and probably 80% do not know they're going through the perimenopause.
Wow. Okay. As I understand it, it's basically a woman's body is [crosstalk 00:05:07].
It's a matter of eggs. We get so many eggs. We are born with all these eggs and then we ovulate and then once all your eggs are gone, you stop having a period.
Basically, each month you ovulate and you let out so many eggs and then once all your eggs are gone then your body decides to ... It doesn't have a period anymore. Basically, the blood stops flowing to your vulva and one in two women will have osteoporosis because of the lack of estrogen. Your body stops making estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Without these, one in three women will have a stroke or a heart attack in the menopause, more than men. One in two women will have a collapsed pelvic floor. One in two women will have osteoporosis.
This is a natural process in a female body but it's accompanied with some pretty brutal type symptoms.
And side effects. How exactly has CBD helped with your particular symptoms? You talked about [crosstalk 00:06:05].
Well, it's helped with everything. It's helped with my anxiety, it's helped with my sleep, it's helped with my headaches, it's helped with my aches and pains, inflammation of joints. I mean, basically, it helps with nearly all the ailments that go with it.
Instead of having to take antidepressants, instead of having to take either ibuprofen all the time because of the headaches or the swelling of the joints and stuff like this, you're taking something that's the full spectrum of the plant, it's just being cold press and a few drops. I mean, I did start on a very low dosage and then, of course, because it's mine I can afford to take a very high dosage now but it's not a cheap product and I don't expect it to be cheap and people are always saying to me, "Oh, in Holland & Barrett theirs is 12 pounds." I'm like, "Yeah, but you're just taking a hemp sack." I hate to say this.
It has to be a reasonable price because it shows that it comes from a reasonably good farm and the oil is not a cheap product. If it is that cheap then you should be a bit worried about it I'm afraid to say. I would say don't go for the cheapest because the quality will not be good.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, given where the industry is, it's still relatively small [crosstalk 00:07:25].
So it's going to be expensive.
Yeah. It's going to be expensive because the other prices ... There's not economies of scale I suppose.
It's not big enough yet but it's definitely ...
Growing and getting there.
Yeah. I know that there is a lot of people because the other day someone went to ... I looked at theirs and I was thinking, "God, theirs is 35 pounds" and then I started thinking, "Oh my God." But, of course, this is going to happen but I do know that my quality is a really good quality. I've spoken with my supplier a million times saying, "Well, this so and so says that they're buying X amount per kilo for their oil and you're paying X amount for your oil. Why can't we do X of that oil?" They're like, "Well, because, Meg, I promise you, we test it three times. When it comes in, we take it to three different testers and we could buy it for that but then do you want your product to be this or this?"
Yeah. Have you found that your friends have had similar kind of benefits from it?
Yeah. Well, all I can just say is that all the people that buy it all come back.
Okay. Repeat customers.
Repeat customer just goes to show that it does work. They are taking a chance to buy it because it is an expensive thing and it's not 12.99. It's not 20 pounds. For the average person, it's a lot of money. Also, the other thing is this thing of them taking it and thinking that it works straight away. It's not an instant relief. You are not smoking a spliff. There's nothing like that. There's no THC. There's no mind altering in it. Your body will take in where it needs to go. You're not going to feel anything.
When people have a gummy bear and go, "Wow. I feel great" and I'm just thinking if it's the placebo effect, love it. Just keep doing it. I have a few women that say, "I don't have a glass of wine now, Meg. I just have gummy bears at night." I'm like, "That's fine." They're happy and they've stopped drinking their wine at night and they're having a couple of gummy bears.
You know, basically meaning that they're not drinking as much and if that is working for them that's great but the reality is we do know that it can take X amount per days to be ... It's like taking your vitamins, that's what I say to people. Take it like you're taking your vitamins. Your body will take it as much as it needs and then some people two days, three days, some people 21 days.
Everyone is completely different. Also, I say start at the low one, start on your 10%, a couple in the morning, a couple at night. You will know and then if you need to up it or you've got more severe headaches or severe pains or whatever then just move up to 20% but start on the 10. Don't just go like me, as the addict, I'm like, "Give me 40, give me 40" and he was like, "No, no. Start off but just take 10, Meg. Then you'll know." Do you know what I mean?
I was like, "No, no. I want the most. I want the most." It's like, "Well, Meg, you don't. Let's start [crosstalk 00:10:21]."
But you learned through the process, right? Of going a bit high and then realizing [crosstalk 00:10:27].
Realizing that I didn't really need that so much and then I moved back down again. Now I'm on 20 and that's fine for me.
They say there's a kind of bell curve to it. It's not just the more you take, the more it works.
Beyond a certain level and then it starts to work less because ...
[crosstalk 00:10:42]. Yeah. I heard, that's what I got told. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I'm saying. You can't take loads and loads, the more you take ... I was thinking, "Yeah. Let me take 40. Yeah." But like you say, it didn't do so then I went back to 20 and it was exactly the same as taking, whatever, the 40 because your body just doesn't work. It just takes as much as it needs and that's the end of it. Yeah.
I mean, I think you alluded to it there. There are lots of stuff on market and with people like Holland & Barrett are huge but possibly not as good a quality product. Given that there's kind of a lot of snake oil, how do you as a brand sort of cope with that?
Well, all I do is go that I'm the face of and I represent my brand so my brand is good and I know that it's not the cheapest on the market but I can vouch that it's great. I think that's just the advantage that you're buying. If you're buying the [inaudible 00:11:34] you can come back to me and go, "This is a load of crap" or whatever but mine is the full spectrum. We know that you can make stuff with pollen. It's not as good quality but how to explain that to people? You know, every [crosstalk 00:11:46].
I don't. I mean, I just hope that because I go for the menopause, it's all about the menopause for me, but also you don't have to have the menopause. It just happened that I can actually say, because you're not allowed to say it, are you? But because it's done my ailments and it's worked all for me, I can say to the press and speak to TV and speak about everything because it's worked for me.
It's worked for you.
As we know, you're not allowed to say anything about CBD if you [crosstalk 00:12:17].
No medical claims. No medical claims.
I can say that it's worked for me so that's why all my women are menopausal women that come to me for it. Of course, that would be great if it was a large market and I'm going out there but I am just saying what worked for me, which means that it's just women is 99% of my market.
It's obviously, you know, you're quite a high profile activist, let's say, in bringing menopausal issues to the fore. Have you found people who don't have menopause are coming to you and using CBD or is it mainly because ...
Mine is mainly just menopausal people that come to me. Yeah. I mean, I have friends ... Of course, I have friends that have my blend that are male and because they come to me because they know that it's good because they've got whatever they've got going on but then I'm not saying who they are or what they are. I do have friends that buy the stuff off me that are men and whatever because they know that it's good or they see it because it's on sale in Hampstead or it's on sale at a certain shops [crosstalk 00:13:19] CBD London and it's up in another shop in Hampstead.
I've been approached by Selfridge's. When these sort of people start approaching you then it's good for all of us really. Selfridge's have come and asked me for my stuff.
Yeah but they also want to charge you a fortune to be on their shelf, which I'm a bit like, no, I'm not paying, my product is good. If you want my product, you can have it. I'm not paying the fee that you want. Got all excited and then they say, "We'll have yours. Of course, we'll have it but there is a fee of X, X, X." I'm a bit like, "Hmm. It's all right. I'll just keep selling it online" because the markup at the moment, for me, is not high enough to go to the price point to be in there.
It's interesting but, look, it's a signal for everyone that someone like Selfridge's is just looking at it, stocking ... We'll talk about it in a second actually but if you think about everything related to cannabis has just been full of stigma for so long that where we are now is quite impressive generally that you've got people like yourself [crosstalk 00:14:20].
Came up to speak after and someone from Unilever. These people were both ... I was thinking, "What are they doing?" It was like a 5 pound ticket sale. Then after they said, "Can I speak to you?" This woman said, "I'm from Estee Lauder. [inaudible 00:14:48] go and find a beauty product with CBD" and then Unilever, which we know is one of the huge ones, had also been right there to source CBD products.
This was probably about nine months ago. I mean, I never heard anything back from them because mine wasn't beauty. I have skin cream and I've got a muscle spray but I think they were more looking for more skin stuff. I mean, [inaudible 00:15:16] and just ended up on a Saturday evening at seven o'clock there to listen to the panel.
How have you found the skincare side of things?
Mine, I have a spray for hot legs. Mine's for legs. You get quite heavy legs and you feel quite heavy at night so I have a [inaudible 00:15:36] lavender spray, which is great for that hot legs at night and then also I have a lavender cream, which I just put out. It's a tiny pot. I just use it really when I just put it all around my neck and my shoulders. For me, it's just more of a muscle thing since I've not got into any of the beauty stuff like the face and stuff. I love Grace's, you know her.
Yes. [inaudible 00:15:58].
Yeah. I love her stuff. I think she's in Selfridge's. She doing really well. She was one of the girls on the panel. There's another girl.
Jasmine [crosstalk 00:16:06]. Yes. Both of their products I think are amazing. I think both of there's really good quality. I plug them all the time.
I think they're great. I'll leave them to do the skin stuff because they've been doing that for years. Do you know what I mean?
I hosted a panel with both of them the other day.
They're amazing, aren't they? Those two.
Really good. Really good. Great examples of young female entrepreneurs as well.
Look, I mean, it's great people like yourself and I interviewed a couple of rugby players who have also started their own CBD brand. It's great that people with a higher public profile like yourselves getting involved. Have you had any stigma to overcome at all?
Throughout the whole process?
No one has ever questioned it.
No. No. I think it's a really ... I'm amazed by how many people actually take it now. I mean, I'm always saying, "Do you know? Do you want to try? Do you want to see?" They go, "Oh, I already got my own." I'm like, "Oh, okay."
I am amazed that most people I speak to have already taken it. They were already getting it from LA many years ago. I mean, a lot of my friends were already on CBD. Yeah. I was miles behind. I was like, "Oh ..." You know, I've been doing that for four years, mate. I was like, "Really?" Yeah. "Oh, well, I won't ask you how you got it in the country or where you did it in the country."
Yeah. I think I was quite surprised how many people. Even like all the local shops down there that have been there for years, they've got CBD tea and CBD coffee and CBD chocolate, cakes, and all these little tiny little cafes that aren't even trendy that still are doing everything.
I mean, whatever. I just think I just want people to just know how good it is and how it just so helps body [inaudible 00:17:53] can't really believe, can't believe that ... We're such a pill popping world, society, that we just don't understand this tiny bit of oil, which is such small, it's going to cure this. Do you know what I mean? Because we're so used to taking a pill, we're so used to taking antibiotics, we're so used to the doc saying, "Take a pill for this. Take a pill of that."
It's like me when I take my HIT I take a gel and I rub it on my inner thigh. Okay? I rub that on my inner thing. I rub testosterone on my inner thigh. Everyone thinks HIT is a tablet. You know what I mean? This is going straight in the blood stream. This is going in the blood stream. It's from the NHS. It's what most of the NHS would say to take. It's a gel and it goes straight into your blood stream. It doesn't go through your liver so there's less clotting.
Even me, getting my head around as I'm rubbing this on my leg I'm going, "Really? This is really curing me?" And it is. I'm still thinking, "Should I be popping a pill? Should I be popping a pill?" That's society for us.
Yeah. No. Definitely. We've been brought up on it, right?
Also, it's worse in America from what I understand. They literally have a pill for everything.
Yeah. Maybe some of the more natural plant alternatives are becoming more popular [crosstalk 00:19:14].
Yeah. Definitely. Well, my HIT is made from yams. It's called Body Identicals. It's not bioidentical. It's medically the best HIT I think out there.
I guess it kind of ... Here's your final question. What did your family say when you were getting into the cannabis business but it sounds like you haven't had much stress at all in terms of [crosstalk 00:19:34].
No. I had no stigma. I mean, I just got praised by everybody because it was like, "Wow, Meg. You're the forefront, you're doing this. It's great." Yeah. Everybody was like ... Again, it's my dad. He said, "I don't think it works but whatever." I said, "You didn't stick to it. I'm sure you didn't take it properly, Dad." Then he was a bit like, "I don't know. It hasn't cured my back."
I was like, "Well, no. You've got a regenerated disc, Dad. There is a certain amount that you need to take, much more than 10% for you. You need to be on the higher dose but I'm not risking giving you whatever, 50%, because then it'll get left in the cupboard and it'll be about a 500 pound bottle of CBD oil." I was saying to him, "Unless you actually promise to take it religiously I'm not giving you it because it's a lot of money's worth." He won't religiously take it so I'm a bit still like [inaudible 00:20:28] 10% for a while but, no, [crosstalk 00:20:30].
Good on him for taking a little bit at least.
No. Yeah. Of course. No, everybody was like ... I think everybody saw it ... Nobody thought that, "Oh my God. It's THC." I don't know where ... I just think I'm quite lucky that everybody is quite up on things. Do you know what I mean?
I mean, of course, everyone is a bit like, "Wow. I'm not going to get high?" I'm sure that a lot of people are ignorant to it but I just think because I've been able to talk about it and do lots of interviews about it, I think before the stigma got crossed over, I was already out there talking about it and explaining that there wasn't any THC and you're not getting high off it.
Great. Great. Well, that's good. That's a positive story.
Yeah. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:21:16].
I ask everyone the question and everyone's family is generally chill with it.
I was expecting to be some kind of horror stories of people, "I got thrown out of the house" and all this sort of stuff. I think everyone is pretty relaxed about it. It's only going to get easier as it becomes more widespread.
I mean, I'm always getting these scares of people saying, "The law is going to change and they're going to stop it and is this true?"
The novel foods regulations. Yeah.
I keep getting these people asking me these questions, which I don't know so I'm going to ask you because I'd like to know.
I'd like to know too. I think a lot of people would. It's still ongoing and there's an organization called The Center for Medicinal Cannabis, which is working around trying to get people regulated so there's kind of self-regulation a bit to show that if you're a responsible CBD seller you adhere to a certain number of standards. A lot of those things are in line ... It's probably a good thing for most responsible sellers.
Yeah. I think it is.
Because it will weed out all the snake oil [crosstalk 00:22:18].
I like that.
Snake oil salesmen.
Snake oil. There's some shit, like you just said, from Thailand and [inaudible 00:22:23] stuff coming through.
Yeah. It's not even that. The CMC did a report and it found ... It took a sample of 20, 30 bottles and very few of them actually had what they said they [crosstalk 00:22:37]. Some had more THC than they should have, some had no CBD in it. Some had it in high alcohol content, which would classify it as a spirit.
Of course. Of course. Yeah.
Maybe not a spirit but an alcoholic drink at least. See, look, there's lots of messing around going.
Yeah. I know because some of them ... Mine taste quite strong and then others I've had, which were with a lot of sunflower and coconut oil and I'm like, "Sunflower? I don't want vegetable oil." Do you know what I mean? I'm anti-vegetable oil. Then, of course, it's smoother and it tastes not as strong. You're like, "Oh, that goes down quite easy" and then you read what's on the side and it's like "I don't want sunflower. Why am I taking that for?"
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
That's why I don't. I mean, I don't do coconut oil or anything in case because I just thought maybe that would make my market ... They're allergic to coconut oil or whatever.
Yeah. Yeah. You got to think it out.
I've got to think.
You've got to think about this. Yeah. Cool. Well, thank you, Meg. That is really helpful and actually just reminded me I need to get someone on to talk about the novel foods regulations.
Oh, yeah. Please do.
We can all find out. I'll let you know when that's coming up.
I just keep getting asked it all the time and I have no idea. I'm like, "I don't know. I'll just wait for them to knock on me and say, 'Sorry. You can't sell anymore." People are going to me, "I hear this is happening and what's happening with the government?" People are always asking me and I'm like, "I don't know that bit."
We can help you out.
Well, thank you very much, Meg. [crosstalk 00:24:02].
Thank you for coming to my house.
Thank you for hosting.
All right. Lovely to meet you.
Cheers. Thanks for joining me for that. I hope you enjoyed the show. Meg is obviously a bit of a public figure, including some really great work publicizing the symptoms around menopause. It's a really good sign for the industry in general where the more mainstream people are entering the CBD world and, hopefully, making it more accessible for people.
It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me since [inaudible 00:24:25]. I'm meeting tons of new people. I have to say it's the best thing about this new industry that I've gone into. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
One of the things I'm going to be doing is I will be hosting an event by Greenlight on the 26th of September at the Curtain Club in London. There will be info on my various social links if you're interested in coming along. It's a bit of an investment focus on cannabis with various people that know lots about those topics.
As always, if you're enjoying the show, please subscribe and share. If you can write me a review, I'd be forever indebted to you. Good karma coming your way. Next week, I've got a really, really big episode. I'm interviewing Professor Dedi Meiri from the Technion University in Tel Aviv and he's the world's leading authority on cannabis as a treatment for cancer. That is a real honor for me and will be a really interesting episode. Until then, have a good week.
This week, we are joined by Meg Mathews - founder of MegsMenopause and entrepreneur. MegsMenopause was launched in 2017 and is an open source of information and advice dedicated to empowering women through an honest and frank discussion of all things menopause.
Together, we speak about: ways in which cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of the menopause, bringing CBD products to market, and the power of cannabis.
- Once Meg turned fifty, she began to experience the first symptoms of the menopause. She was shocked at the lack of support and understanding shown to women during this time in their lives and made it her mission to break the stigma around the menopause.
- Meg started taking CBD after seeing her friend take it at night. This piqued her curiosity and decided to try it for herself. After three weeks of taking CBD, she was free from aches and pains associated with the menopause and sleeping well.
- She believed in CBD so much for alleviating symptoms of the menopause that she decided to bring out her own range of CBD products to support her views.
- The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
- The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.
- There are 34 symptoms of the menopause which include anxiety, night sweats, fatigue, trouble sleeping, hot flushes, headaches, tender breasts, mood swings, weight gain, dry skin and difficulty concentrating.
- Meg is an advocate for the healing power of CBD specifically for menopausal women, having had first hand experience with its healing properties herself. She is now the founder and face of MegsMenopause, an open source of information and advice dedicated to empowering women going through the menopause.
- Megs products include skincare, intimate care, and CBD food supplements.
Meg didn’t face any adversity or stigma when she decided to take the leap into CBD, her family and friends were very supportive, a direct contrast to many others who face a myriad of questions and doubt when they do the same.