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August 28, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 28, 2014

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4 Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page C-15 Herbal reliej~ 5kokomish Valley woman experiments with marijuana-infused oils to help with pain marijuana processors seek- ing licenses from the state Liquor Board will prepare and package the product to be smoked or eaten in cookies or brownies. Deb Petersen, seeking a license in the Skokomish Valley with her business Crema de Gala, will in- fuse oils, lotions and soaps with the plant, exploiting its pain-relieving qualities. Petersen, a 52-year-resident of Mason County, has created bath and beauty products through her company Shepherd Soaps for 23 years. "It's a business opportunity," she said. When Initiative 502 passed in November 2012, she decided to ex- plore how she might incorporate the new industry into what she already knew -- soaps, lotions and other beauty products. SHE HAS A CARD Last summer, Petersen got a medical marijuana card, allowing her to experiment with infusing marijuana into oils. She uses the products to help with pain from carpal tunnel syndrome. "I'm sleeping and this horrible pain wakes me up in the middle of the night. I don't like using Ibu- profen and acetaminophen ... I was curious because I saw the 1-502 window coming up," she said. "I wanted to research it and see if it really was effective." Petersen starts by getting the dried plant material from a grower, then grinds it into small pieces. Then she roasts the ground marijuana in an oven. Heating the material releases carbon mol- ecules, which activates the canna- By NATALIE JOHNSON binoids, or the chemicals found in Cannabis. Petersen uses strains of Canna- bis with higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), than tetrahy- drocannabinol (THC). CBD is known for its pain-re- lieving benefits, while THC is the psychoactive chemical in Canna- bis. Next, she mixes it with oil, such as coconut, grape seed or ol- ive oil, and cooks the concoction again. During the cooking, "the fat acids in the oil will pull the THC and the CBDs into the fat," Peters- en said. After it's cooked, she uses a juice press to separate the infused oil from the remaining marijuana plant material. "It's a very messy job," she said. The oil is mixed with lotions, salves and other products. Used topically, the lotions are remark- ably affective for Petersen's carpal tunnel pain, she said. "It works incredibly well," she said. "I was surprised. I still am." SOMETHING FOR THE NIGHT The oil is also edible and can be used as a sleep aid, Petersen said. The plant matter separated from the infused oil, known as mash, becomes an exfoliant in soaps, Petersen said. "It's been historically used for this kind of thing," she said. "They used to use it as far back as I can tell in the 10th century." Spurred on by the success of her experiment in creating medi- Journal photos by Natalie Johnson Deb Petersen shows off the mash produced in the process of infusing marijuana into oils, such as coconut oil. The mash is later used as an exfoliant in soaps. Petersen has a medical marijuana card and is working with the state Liquor Control Board to get a license to make the products commercially. cal Cannabis products, Petersen is working with the state Liquor Con- trol Board to get her commercial processing business licensed and up and running. While previous batches were completed in her home, the busi- ness will operate out of a former canning shed on her property, be- ing converted to her "Cannabis shed," Petersen said. In addition to being a longtime county resident and a business- owner, Petersen is a Hood Canal School District board member and is vice-chair of the Mason Transit Authority Board. Before applying for her processing license, Petersen asked both boards what they thought of her plan. Neither board saw an issue with Petersen continuing to serve while pursuing her state processor li- cense While some county residents have expressed concerns about producers and processors in resi- dential areas, Petersen said her Cannabis shed shouldn't have any effect on her neighbors. State regulations require that her 180-square-foot facility be equipped with eight security cam- eras. However, Petersen addressed the stigma still attached to mari- juana and its byproducts. "It shouldn't be there," she said. "It's a legal substance." She said concerns about in- creased crime are "mostly bred out of fear of the unknown." In the long run, Petersen pre- dicts that the industry will lead to more business growth, tax rev- enue, and other benefits to Mason County. "I think they will see this is a huge help for our community," she said. Deb Peterson produces small amounts of lotions, salves and soaps containing marijuana to help relieve pain.