If you know cannabis in Colorado, you've heard of Jane West. Whether you've seen her on Nightline, CBS or NBC, read about her in Forbes, Time, Rolling Stone or, most recently, Playboy, she's been the face of women in the industry since she started her company in 2014.
The funny thing, though, is that West fell into it almost by accident. For eight years, she ran ten-day experiential-education programs for students who wanted to be doctors in thirteen cities nationwide. Then, after Coloradans legalized recreational marijuana, she started hosting cannabis events, and the Denver Post did an article about her new company. The paper ran her photo with the story, and she was sure someone at her work would see it and she would be fired — but nothing happened.
Then CNBC did a "Marijuana in America" piece, interviewing West along with upwards of forty other people for the segment. West was sure that even if she was included in the final cut, it would be a very minor appearance.
"I had no reason to believe I'd be such a big section, but my event was seven minutes of this piece, and the way CNBC works — and I was such a novice at the time, I didn't know — it airs all the time," she recalls.
To preview the segment, Brian Williams made an introduction during the five o'clock news in which he said that what viewers were about to see is illegal under federal law, even though it's legal in Colorado. As he said that, the film jumped to a promo of Jane West and her event.
"I got fired the next day," she says. "I thought I'd be lucky if they used clips of classy-looking people in the piece; that's all I really cared about, because at that time, so many articles would write about my event and then use stock footage they had, and there'd be, like, a dude taking a dab hit."
This all happened in March 2014, when recreational sales were only two months old. West was new to the scene, but she was already a prominent figure because of the coverage. "I was in the press so much that people were reaching out to me from all over the country and all over the world," she says. "What I was doing, I had only done twice when I got fired. I held two, two-hour events. That's it."
Now, almost three years later, West has her own company, Jane West, and she founded Women Grow for women in the cannabis industry. Walking into her home office, she passes laundry baskets and children's toys. She sits at her desk in front of designs for her new line of bongs that are taped to the wall behind her desk.
The idea for the collection came about when she was hosting a party and wanted a couple of pieces for people to be able to use as they mingled. She searched everywhere for a style she liked but could only find one piece that was anything like what she was looking for.
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"This black-and-white bong was kind of the beginning," she says. "I wanted to make something better."
She reached out to Grav Labs, one of the companies making some of the highest-quality glass on the market, and started thinking about what she wanted this new line to be like. The designs she came up with are sleek and simple, made with cobalt-blue glass that is strong and feels sturdy in your hand.
What is apparent from West's designs is that she loves cannabis and wants to make products that cater to the casual user, the non-smoker smoker.
Her new line has five pieces, ranging in price from $250 for the largest piece, The Beaker, to a pipe called The Taster, which runs just $35. The Beaker is already sold out but will soon be available again. And next time, West hopes to offer emerald and amber options as well as cobalt blue.