Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jan 2017
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2017 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Chris Macias


What is cannabis topical oil? And why is this Rancho Cordova couple so
good at making it?

The runner-up in the "topicals" division at December's Emerald Cup
cannabis competition in Santa Rosa had a familiar name attached to it:
Lavender Epsom Salts by Whoopi & Maya, a company co-founded by comedian
Whoopi Goldberg.

Chelsea Dudgeon and Newell Taylor of Rancho Cordova didn't have the same
kind of name recognition with their product, which also provides pain
relief from cannabis via skin absorption. But these partners in business
and romance were equipped with something better: the winning formula.

Their Deep Skin Penetrating Topical Oil took first place, besting a field
of nearly 50 entries.

The weekend already had been a heady one for the couple, who joined the
30,000 people descending upon the Sonoma County Fairgrounds -- one month
after voters approved the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and
over in California -- to check out pot products and socialize.

The Cup's awards ceremony lasted 90 minutes as the winners for best
cannabis flowers, edibles and other categories were declared. At first,
Dudgeon, 29, and Taylor, 49, didn't realize that Deep Skin had won. But
once on stage, the normally shy Dudgeon soaked in the moment, snapping
pictures of the crowd with her camera.

"It was a huge shock," Dudgeon said on a recent afternoon with Taylor at
an East Sacramento cafe. "We had almost stopped paying attention, but we
heard our contestant number and thought, 'Wait, that's us.' I didn't think
we were going to win."

Taking the top prize in the Emerald Cup is considered the cannabis
equivalent of winning an Oscar, and a key way to establish clout in
California's medical marijuana economy, which is valued as high as $2.7

The award was especially sweet since the competition essentially served as
the product launch for Deep Skin. Dudgeon and Taylor initially had
developed their topical oil just for family and friends. They'd entered
some of their homegrown marijuana in the Emerald Cup's flowers category
and decided to try their luck at topicals on a whim.

Dudgeon has grown cannabis for the past three years, while Taylor has
worked for the past 17 years in pest control for the cannabis industry.
The couple made their first batch of cannabis-infused topical oil about a
year ago for Dudgeon's grandmother, who suffers from arthritis in the
knee. Using cannabis in other ways, such as smoking, wasn't going to work
for her. In addition, Dudgeon comes from a family of Jehovah's Witnesses.

"I wanted to make a topical that (she) could use," Dudgeon said. "My
grandma tried it and she loves it. She says nothing else works with the
pain in her knees."

"We first just wanted to make a usable product for ourselves," Taylor
added. "It happens to work for other people as well."

Marijuana-infused topicals will not get you high. They contain trace
amounts of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and
those cannabinoids generally can't enter the bloodstream via the skin.
Cannabis-infused oils and creams are said to promote localized pain relief
and the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana by binding to CB2, the
cannabis receptors found throughout the body.

Deep Skin's product employs several ingredients, including olive oil,
avocado oil, lemon peel and chamomile with a strain of Prism Grape
cannabis. This particular cannabis was chosen for its aromatic properties
since it's less skunky smelling than many other marijuana strains.

"We didn't want it to smell like a hippy car," Dudgeon said. "If it
smelled like weed, my grandma wouldn't use it."

The overall aroma of Deep Skin is mostly floral, with a bit of spice from
its ginger essential oil. It sinks into the skin well and causes a slight
warming sensation. This combination of balanced aromatics and easy
application is what won over the five-person judging panel at the Emerald
Cup. Other judging criteria included packaging and efficacy, which was in
part evaluated by a judge who suffers from fibromyalgia.

"The thought and care that went into it was far and away superior," said
Paul Hansbury, co-head judge for the topicals category. "The packaging aE&
was very impressive. It was easy to apply and it wasn't greasy. For all
five of us (judges), it's like this product was calling out to us."

Deep Skin oil isn't yet available at local dispensaries, but can be
purchased by medical marijuana card holders in California via In Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, the
oil can be delivered to a dispensary or via a courier. A 10-milliliter
bottle, which contains up to 50 applications, costs $40.

Dudgeon is now looking to create a cannabis-free version of the oil, and
perhaps an anti-aging cream and other cannabis-based cosmetics. With the
buzz for Deep Skin following the Emerald Cup, the company is looking to
move fast.

"When our name got called, I'm thinking now I have to launch a business
quickly," Dudgeon said.
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