Wanda James

Opening Plenary Speaker

A current University of Colorado regent and CU alum, Wanda James is also one of the most widely respected leaders in cannabis today. As a Black woman, a veteran, and a former Fortune 100 executive, she has spent the past decade working to remove the stigma of the plant and shedding light on the racial inequities of the cannabis industry. 

Wanda is the founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver. Along with her husband Scott Durrah, they became the first African Americans, legally licensed in America, to own a dispensary, a cultivation facility, and an edible company. 

A decade after the first move to legalize cannabis, Wanda is unapologetically critical of the industry that remains 97% white-owned. 

Whether it’s speaking out on the lack of Black ownership in cannabis, over-policing Black neighborhoods, or the mass incarceration that still exists for people of color, Wanda is a fierce advocate for those without a voice.

 She is also the founder and President of the Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI), a marketing and consulting firm that specializes in diversity development, regulatory framework, and marketing. The group is dedicated to providing innovative solutions through strategic alliances and business development surrounding the legalization of cannabis.