I hate to break it to you, but Jane West is cooler than your mom. Not my mom, of course; my mom has flirted with Robert De Niro, has an unusual amount of photos of her leaning on expensive sports cars wearing evening gowns in the ‘80s, and can use a power saw as though it were a butter knife.
But West, 40, is a beast of another kind: a weedbeast, if you will. She’s one of the leading names in cannabis industry entrepreneurship and, instead of resting on her dank laurels, she’s dedicated to uplifting women everywhere who are trying to follow in her footsteps…when she’s not busy hanging out with Snoop Dogg or Willie Nelson.
Oh, and she actually is a mom (to two very lucky boys).
West got her start by organizing events in Denver, Colorado, not too long after marijuana was legalized throughout the state in 2014. These shindigs were BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis) and classier than a hardcore Pinterester’s dinner parties.
At $125 a ticket, Edible Events sought to offer an alternative to the common weed consumption aesthetic. Instead of dusting Doritos crumbs off their fingers onto their pants and vegging out on someone’s couch, patrons could dress to the nines, enjoy a cocktail, and get their munchies on.
“They said ‘No one’s going to get dressed up and put on their heels to go to these events,’” West said regarding her initial haters. “But they were so successful, it’s illegal now.”
Photo: Cyrus McCrimmon (Denver Post)
Yes, sadly, I am referring to the company in the past tense. Within a few short months, West’s Edible Events started gaining the attention of local law enforcement, who eventually shut her down. She was slapped with misdemeanor charges, neither having anything to do with marijuana, during a 4/20 brunch.
Luckily, this wasn’t before West was contracted to put on summer fundraising events for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. It doesn’t get much more ritzy than that.
A Baker’s Dozen
Although West prefers smoking marijuana “flower,” her renewed use of it was actually due to a friend’s edible. Since that auspicious evening, living in Denver has allowed her to watch the edible market evolve, albeit not in the way she’d prefer.
“I would like to see people buy marijuana more like they buy doughnuts,” said West “’Okay, I’ll take two of those and three of those.’”
And with good reason. Different strains produce wildly different effects from person to person, so consumption shouldn’t be viewed as a monolith. Denver budtenders have responded to tourists’ desires for micro-doses and variety with cannabis flights, but West doesn’t think those should only be marketed to out-of-towners.
A steadfast believer in micro-dosing marijuana (particularly in the female demographic), West is betting on sublinguals, like lozenges and mouth sprays, to be the next big thing. Their compact nature makes dosing extremely customizable depending on your mood, plus they’re faster-acting than a traditional edible.
Other artisanal edibles haven’t hit their stride, suffering in taste and overall experience due to their high THC concentration.
Helping Women Grow
But that’s the problem with the marijuana sector as a whole, according to West. By pushing macro-doses and the male-centric consumption associated with them as the status quo, this budding industry risks alienating its growing clientele, intimidating more casual users, and shutting out innovative entrepreneurs.
Photo: C. Roese Ramp (Fortune)
“Based on the press from Edible Events, I was getting daily emails from women who wanted to make their mark on the cannabis industry,” said West regarding the birth of her two-year-old networking company Women Grow. “I don’t want to read an article in 10 years where everyone’s going ‘Oh shit, there are no women here.’”
With monthly networking events and access to valuable webinars, over 50,000 members of Women Grow are making sure that doesn’t happen.
This weekend, we’ll be joining Jane West at the Further Future festival where she’ll talk about the future of marijuana.
“What intrigues me the most about Further Future is their approach to culture and the evolution of culture. One of the things inspiring about the marijuana industry is that we’re doing everything from scratch. What we want this [industry] to look like and what we fight for it to look like is what it will be.” -Jane West