Equity in Cannabis – Jane West
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Tune in to Episode 93 as we discuss the very important topic of equity in cannabis with Jane West. Jane discusses the inequalities occurring in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and other legal cannabis markets. We candidly discuss the application and license process in these States and the sheer inequality it is causing for minorities and as a result the effects it is having on local communities. Learn more about Jane’s stance on fairness and race equality in this episode and check out Episode 80 to learn more about Jane’s background.
In 2013, I founded Edible Events Company, hosting cannabis-friendly Friday night cocktail parties designed to normalize consumption. At these parties like-minded adults celebrated legalization in Denver art galleries with elegant food and live music. These events filled a previously empty niche and were immediately popular. They were soon co-sponsored by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and media attention followed quickly. Our collaboration – “Red Rocks on a High Note” – was featured on Nightline. After I made another appearance on CNBC promoting cannabis use, I was asked to resign from my “day job”— as a corporate event manager I had held for eight years.
While my monthly events were selling out, they were pushing the limits of legal social consumption. The parties attracted the attention of the anti-cannabis contingent and the city of Denver. In 2014, a SWAT team shut down my 4/20 brunch event at a small private bakery. In addition to receiving criminal charges and a year’s probation, I was explicitly banned from hosting events with cannabis consumption.
The constant media attention put me in the spotlight. Suddenly, women from all walks of life were reaching out to me to ask how to enter the cannabis industry. With a new criminal record and no actual job in the sector, I certainly didn’t think I had sage advice to give. But I am good at organizing people and getting a lot done in a short amount of time, so I pivoted and focused my time on organizing women-led initiatives within cannabis.
I founded Women Grow and held the group’s first networking meeting in 2014. Since then over 100,000 people have attended Women Grow networking events. After two years dedicated to building Women Grow, I set off on my own in 2016 to start a first of its kind company making glassware and accessories for flower lovers like me.
I had a vision of my own glassware line and a sophisticated set of dugouts and one hitters that fit my aesthetic. I also dreamed of building my company brick by brick in exactly the way I saw fit. I believe diversity is crucial to success and the culture of the companies I partner with matters. I raised capital from small investors and built a company that is 80% owned by women and people of color. Our first equity crowdfunding campaign in 2018 invited people from all around the world to be part of the Jane West brand. We closed with $189K from 550 investors across 17 countries.
It took my growing team two and a half years to bring the glassware, travel, and CBD collections to market. In 2018, we decided to answer the question we heard from consumers most often: “What type of weed should I buy and where should I buy it?” Today, we are answering this question through our packaging partnerships, our fastest growing, highest margin revenue stream.