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Cannabis spices up woman's cookbook

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Gresham resident Cheryl DuBois Graves shows off just a few of the cannabis-infused food products that can be made using her new cookbook, Love Buds: Healthy and Healing Cooking with Cannabis. When people find out about salon owner Cheryl DuBois Graves’ second career, she’s met with winks and grins.

As the owner of DuBois Salon, 719 N. Main Ave., as well as the former Hair Graphics before that, her name should sound familiar to anyone who’s lived in Gresham for a while.

She founded a fashion line for women hunters and fishers, and is a celebrated painter including having a side business painting dog portraits. She’s won blue ribbons for showing dogs and holds fundraisers for dog parks.

She has a reputation for being a Type A, straight-and-narrow businesswoman. But when people find out about her new venture — writing cook books for marijuana-infused recipes — the script gets flipped.

The book, “Love Buds: Healthy and Healing Cooking with Cannabis,” will be the first in a series of cannabis cookbooks for DuBois Graves.

“I think because I’ve always been real involved in the community — I’ve been on about every philanthropy board you can be on — so I know a lot of people,” DuBois Graves said. “This (cookbook) recognition comes with a funny little smirk. It’s kind of funny when people approach you about it. We just shrug it off. We’re helping people to feel better.”

Her foray into cooking with cannabis started the same way she approaches everything: with research.

While the notion of cannabis edibles conjures up visions of brownies and cookies, DuBois Graves, 61, wanted her recipes to be healthy while delivering medicinal benefits.

Miracle medicine

DuBois Graves first smoked cannabis at ago 20 after being diagnosed with cervical and utero cancer. She didn’t like the feeling, however, and didn’t think about it again until about five years ago when her aging dog started having health problems.

To understand her motivation, it helps to understand how the compounds of cannabis lead to therapeutic results.

The two most studied compounds in marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. When someone smokes or eats marijuana, he or she gets the “high” psychoactive effects from THC and the pain relieving-, anxiety- nausea-reducing effects from the CBD. For her recipes, DuBois Graves works primarily with marijuana with a high CBD content that reduces the “high” effect of marijuana while still providing pain-relieving benefits that many patients seek.

Though DuBois Graves’ products are mostly CBD based, she did start bringing THC products into the line to serve patients who needed a more powerful medicine.

“CBD stripped down all by itself is like taking an Advil,” DuBois explained. “CBD with the THC is like taking a Vicodin.”

After trying nearly everything to help her dog, she turned to the internet and read that marijuana with high CBD content could be beneficial. She made her pup a pot roast with cannabis, and when his appetite and mood both got better, she knew she had stumbled on something great.

“Our dog that has passed away, Jack, a white German shepherd, came to us at three-months old, sick. We thought it was a temporary stomach issue, and it ended up being a life-threatening condition to the tune of well over $10,000 in medicine and blood work,” she said. “None of it seemed to be working, so I went and got a medical (marijuana) license and I started putting it in food for him. He just felt so much better. His appetite increased. He was happier, he moved around better. He all around looked like a healthier dog.”

From there she began looking into other ways people could benefit from marijuana without having to smoke it, and out of that came the Cooking with Cannabis Series.

“It really is a miraculous herb,” she said.

Recipe development

So far, DuBois Graves has published just the one cookbook, but she has more coming out soon with one for pets including 100 cannabis crockpot recipes for dogs.

To develop the recipes for people, DuBois Graves spent a year researching “the healthiest spices available” to blend with the marijuana.

Her product line includes 18 spice blends such as barbecue, savory beef, curry, Italian, lemon pepper and taco seasonings made with all-organic ingredients. She also sells chili and rose oil infusions with cannabis and super greens and maca-root smoothie mixes and two marijuana tea blends. Her cookbook features a mix of recipes to use with her product line and recipes to use with people’s own cannabis. None of the recipes include sugar.

DuBois Graves first makes all the recipes herself, with oregano substituted for marijuana, and then later tests them with cannabis.

She brightens up when talking about her marijuana recipes and their healing power, but explains this wasn’t always her attitude about pot.

“I was totally against it,” she said. “I’ve always been against them, but watching my dog suffer so much, I would have tried anything to help him. That’s what made me open up.”

Though she says she’s not an advocate for the marijuana industry, publishing a cannabis cookbook brought her into the middle of the legalization debate in Oregon.

Part of the plan

Though she doesn’t grow her own weed for her products, DuBois Graves still finds herself getting tripped up occasionally in the ever-changing state regulations on medical and recreational marijuana.

“I’ve been mentored and tutored by so many individuals in this field. In that respect, I’m happy to be in this (industry),” she said. “The tangled up mess of the state getting all their stuff straight is the issue. There’s a charge to it because it’s almost like you’re doing something slightly naughty. I’ve never done anything I had to watch behind my back for.”

If she’s walking around Gresham and someone asks her what she does, she says she owns and works in a hair salon. As far as her ties to the marijuana industry, she considers herself a cookbook developer.

And that’s how she plans to live her life for the next six years. Like everything else she does, DuBois Graves has her future meticulously mapped out. She’ll work in the salon 30 hours a week for the next six years and will write and develop cookbooks 40 hours a week. After that period is up, she’ll hit the road with her husband and dogs.

She admits she will probably never truly retire. She’s already been asked to be a marijuana consultant for a few different businesses.

“I think it’s changed my whole entire family’s outlook on who I am,” DuBois Graves said. “They always saw me as a rigid, stick-to-business person, and now they look at me as a free spirit. (They’ll say that) I’ve finally opened up and lightened up and thrown caution to the wind to do this.”