ALGOMA – OK, first things first. One doesn’t need to bring a bag of chips to One Health Wisconsin for post-visit munchies. You don’t have to rock out to jam bands. There isn’t a dress code requiring scruffy facial hair, tie-dyes, bloodshot eyes or sandals.
The downtown Algoma shop — which had a soft opening last week and holds a grand opening Friday — sells oils, balms and other health and beauty products for all ages, including pets, made from cannabidiol, or CBD, an oil derived from cannabis.
Yes, CBD is from the same family of plant as marijuana, but CBD usually comes from industrial hemp, a cannabis that has only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. You won’t get high from CBD use.
In fact, all of One Health Wisconsin’s CBD products extract the substance from hemp. The business name purposely doesn’t include “CBD” or “cannab-whatever” or any reference to the plant, and the signage in the front window of the shop says “Healthy not High,” which owners Stacey Deprey-Purper and Mike Swille want to make clear straightaway.
“We are not a head shop,” Deprey-Purper said. “We are more of a spa/apothecary environment. The majority of our customers are over 55 (years old). … We want to show people there’s nothing to be ashamed of, make them aware of the medical benefits that hemp can provide.”
Deprey-Purper and Swille want to make customers aware of what they see as CBD’s benefits, especially compared to standard prescription medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has yet to conclude any tests on CBD, warned several producers last month for their advertised claims of medical benefits and stated CBD companies should not make such claims without official verification.
One Health Wisconsin will aid and encourage potential customers to conduct their own research into CBD, of which tons of material exists online, ask questions of its staff and make their own decisions about whether to try CBD. Educating people about their health and CBD products is one of the company’s primary goals.
“I can only talk to you about testimonials from customers and my own personal experiences,” Deprey-Purper said. “We have to be careful about giving medical advice. We can point them in the right direction, review information. We’re here to educate the public; that’s our first and foremost goal.”
“People need to take control of their own care,” Swille said. “There are cases where you need the pharmaceutical companies; CBD and your body can’t make up that deficit. But you take one pill for something, you take another pill to counteract the side effects, causing yourself more harm.”
Both Deprey-Purper and Swille said they can offer their own testimonials to the effectiveness of their products.
Deprey-Purper, an Algoma native and entrepreneur who owns a marketing firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said her story began when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis while attending Algoma High School. She was prescribed medication to deal with it. Later, she also was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disease that causes pain at various points throughout the body, fatigue and other issues.
Deprey-Purper said she was hit hard by side effects from her medications, then decided to try treating her health problems naturally.
“I’ve really lived the last, almost 20 years without the use of synthetic medications,” she said. “I try to treat everything naturally first, try to flush the toxins out of my body. … For me, it’s a true passion to try to prevent other people from dealing with more problems or side effects.”
Swille is a Green Bay native and four-year Navy veteran who saw action in the Gulf War. He said he was in San Diego when he learned about hemp-based health products about four years ago.
“The main reason (I became interested) is, I was introduced to a man who had a 2-year-old boy who had seizures,” Swille said. “The father … found (CBD) made a night-and-day difference for his son. The idea came to me that I want to provide that. The testimonials I saw were amazing. … I heard people say their quality of life increased tenfold.”
Swille also uses CBD himself. He said he works with his hands and sustains cuts, bruises and burns, but he’s found relief through CBD oils. He said it also appears to relieve the itch from mosquito bites.
Deprey-Purper pointed out that hemp oils have been used as a health product for thousands of years, with some evidence dating as far back as 2,900 B.C. Proponents have claimed they can relieve pain without the side effects inherent in opioids, ease stress and seizures, help wounds heal and more.
Deprey-Purper and Swille came together when Swille, a friend of Deprey-Purper’s brother, was working on a hemp farm out west and asked her for marketing advice for a CBD recipe he concocted. Deprey-Purper had been using oils from another company but said she didn’t trust the quality of its products.
They decided to invest in their own business, which has been selling CBD products online and wholesale for a year before opening the Algoma store.
A wide range of quality is a concern as the CBD industry grows rapidly, now that oils that don’t exceed the 0.3% THC level mandated by the government are legal in all 50 states. As of now, there are few limits on how CBD companies label their products. Swille said it is important to provide high-quality CBD.
“There are many different processes used to get CBD oil from the plant, such as chemical or alcohol extraction,” Swille said. “I wanted to go from farm to finished product with no chemicals, no pesticides.”
To that end, the plants Swille uses are grown without chemicals on a farm in the western U.S. (they’re exploring a location in Wisconsin now that industrial hemp farming is licensed by the state) and the CBD is extracted using low-temperature carbon dioxide, which maintains the integrity of the oils. Swille said his oils have just three ingredients, all of which provide a health benefit, and all the products are tested and certified for their contents by independent laboratories.
“I believe our product can stand alone in this market,” he said. “There’s a lot of different information people are getting. We are as transparent as possible. Our quality is backed up with certificates of analysis.”
Back to the roots
So, of all the places to open a shop selling newly legal, controversial health products, why Algoma?
Deprey-Purper, who relocated back to Northeast Wisconsin, as did Swille, about a year ago, said, “The reason I was able to achieve the level of success I have in my life is because of my roots and where I came from. I tell people all the time how grateful I am for the education I received in Algoma, and how I always wanted to give back to the community.”
She also said the location seems to make customers more comfortable with the quality of the products, which is why “Wisconsin” is in the business name.
“I’m quite proud of our heritage. I want ‘Wisconsin’ in everything I do,” Deprey-Purper said. “Even when I’m selling in big cities, Wisconsin is synonymous with quality. People quite honestly have a better opinion of companies based in the Midwest.”
An open house and ribbon-cutting will be held at One Health Wisconsin, 219 Steele St., Algoma, from noon to 1 p.m. Friday to teach people about the services and CBD oils offered by the shop. A light lunch and cocktails will be served. Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 920-372-2420 or visit algomacbd.com or farm2pharmacy.com.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or email@example.com.
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