SAN ANTONIO — In a State where weed is legal and recreational dispensaries are all over the place, more than McDonald's or Starbucks, according to the DEA, one owner stands out above the rest.... Wanda James.
I spoke to this retired Navy Officer, who worked for President Obama and is now the only Black dispensary owner in the entire state of Colorado.
"My husband and I are the first African-Americans legally licensed in Colorado to own a dispensary and edible company and cultivation facility," said Wanda James.
Making her the first African-American woman ever legally licensed to sell or cultivate weed, but what would make a former Navy Lieutenant, political consultant who worked on former President Barack Obama's 2008 National Finance Committee decide to sell pot?
"We wanted to put a black face on it," said James.
It was also personal for James, whose brother spent time in a Federal Prison when she says he was caught with 4 ounces of pot.
"For four years, in Texas, my brother picked cotton to buy his freedom," said James.
James admits up until then she didn't know anyone who had been arrested for pot, much less done 10 years in prison for it.
"At that point we started looking at what was going on and we found out that 800,000 people a year, mostly black and brown boys, between the ages of 17 and 24, were arrested for simple possessions," said James.
And forcing the conversation to make people aware is the reason why James got into the cannabis business.
When asked: What would you say to those that say "Texas Beware." James response: "People really need to grow up, because my family is from Texas, I can land in Texas and within 10 minutes I can find all the cannabis that I want. It's not that cannabis is not in Texas, it's not that regular people don't use cannabis, I have smoked cannabis my entire life and my entire circle of friends has smoked cannabis, who are doctors and lawyers. So what we see is the same people that drink beer, that drink wine has been smoking cannabis their entire lives,
So the idea and the myth, that when you legalize, people are going to start smoking in Texas, is beyond ridiculous because it's already happening."
The fight for legalization didn't end with Colorado, James says she will continue to help those in favor of legalization in Texas. In her opinion, legalization means that the cannabis already used by consumers in Texas would be clean, tested, free of mold, mildew and bugs. You would know what you are getting.
"Don't you want that for the people in Texas?" said James.
Follow Yami on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram