Black Women Know That The Stakes Are High In The Cannabis Industry, Here’s Why They’re Joining It Anyway

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of ESSENCE

Let’s be real: most of us probably didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming powerhouses in the cannabis industry.

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As it was with Wanda James, the first Black woman to own a dispensary in Colorado, the idea of working in weed most likely wasn’t talked about in your household. Despite being a military brat, James has always called Colorado home. Even though her state decriminalized marijuana in 1975, she never imagined the industry turning into what it is today. “In college and as a young adult, I didn’t even consider that this could be a career,” she says.

James started out as a serial entrepreneur, running several restaurants and consulting companies. It wasn’t until she met her biological

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