Katie Stem and Kate Black own Peak Extracts in Oregon. They sell cannabis infused chocolate, as well as an anti-inflammatory salve. We caught up with them recently to ask a few questions.
What kind of Apeks system do you have?
When did you buy it?
We started with the 1500 1L in 2014 and upgraded to the 5L in April 2016
How much do you extract daily?
We typically do 2-3 runs a day, so depending on material quality, up to 9 lbs.
What does your company specialize in?
We specialize in infused chocolates, and a topical pain reliever called Rescue Rub. We’re going to debut a cartridge line in Autumn 2017.
You experienced medical issues which led you into the industry. Can you tell us more?
I started struggling with Crohn’s disease as a teenager, and after many years of using Western interventions, I was not making any discernible progress. When I moved to Oregon in 2004, I worked at the medical school here (OHSU) doing research on natural and pharmaceutical treatments for auto-immune disorders. One of my colleagues suggested I try Cannabis for my Crohn’s disease, and I did so under the supervision of my physician. My results were encouraging, and I chose to deviate from my path in Western medicine to pursue a degree in Chinese Medicine. Interestingly enough, Cannabis is also considered to be a medicinal herb in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, being first described thousands of years ago for its analgesic effects. It’s been a fascinating journey, and I am eternally grateful for the tools I’ve acquired to improve my own health.
Do you think women feel intimidated in this industry?
Intimidated is not the word I’d use–this industry by proportion has more working female executives than any other, and although still not the majority, in many ways it is a more supportive environment than other vocations. There are fewer expectations of what women “should do” in cannabis, and little precedent, which is very freeing. It can be very frustrating and insulting to navigate interactions with people that assume women to be incompetent and inept, especially when it comes to operating machinery or running businesses. This industry is also rife with cumbersome regulations that feel discriminatory, and I think women are better equipped to handle this changing and hostile environment because we’ve already dealt with it in other facets of our life and careers.
What advice would you give to other women starting up today?
Surround yourself with people you trust, find mentors within the industry of both genders, and make sure to nurture those relationships. And find male and female allies that will stand up for you. It’s extremely frustrating, but it has been necessary on multiple occasions to call in a “stunt man” to assuage an inspector, technician, representative or engineer. It’s been difficult for me to swallow my pride, as the men I asked to stand by me in those various moments were typically less informed on the topic than I was– but the presence of a man immediately moved our problem forward and kept our business running smoothly.