Photo Credits: Photography by Andrew Bydlon / Hair + Makeup by Anderson Gonzalez
o picture this: it’s a warm evening in the waning days of summer, and you’re in California Wine Country on your first trip in the post-COVD-19 world—the afterworld, an open world, a healthy world, a world filled with laughter and joy and experiences and friends. A world after freaking Zoom. You’re elated to be here, out of your home and away on this magical trip to Sonoma Valley. You’re attending a farm-to-table pairing dinner at Sonoma Hills Farm, a 40-acre craft farm and culinary garden within the Petaluma Gap, one of the world’s most renowned regions for wine terroir.
But you’re not here for the wine. You’re here for the weed.
You’re here to get high, during an elegant evening imagined by Jane West, a woman media outlets like to call “the Martha Stewart of marijuana”—or “weed,” “cannabis” or “pot,” depending on the outlet doing the calling. And over the last seven years, lots of outlets have come calling on Jane: Inc., Fortune, Newsweek, InStyle, Marie Claire, to name a few. That’s not to mention all the marijuana mags compelled to profile the high-minded entrepreneur from Denver who stepped into the national media spotlight to become the photogenic face of the legal cannabis industry during its earliest days in Colorado back in 2014.
“Moms are out there talking about what edibles they’re buying. It’s been one of the biggest changes I’ve observed: moms are talking about cannabis on the playground. That’s normalization.”
– Jane West
At that time, the mom of two was a social worker, planning events for an (unnamed) national corporation. Jane West is her alter ego, born from the same motivation that’s led the trailblazing character to become more than just a name but an entire cannabis lifestyle brand at the forefront of a $20.5 billion global industry that’s expected to reach over $90.4 billion by 2026. Both Jane West the person and Jane West the brand have helped accelerate that growth.
Somewhat ironically, that growth is spurred in part by celebrities like Martha Stewart who are now clamoring to get branded CBD products to market. Jane West has an established, sought-after CBD line too, and a home goods collection. While Stewart shuns THC and getting “high,” West is a proud daily cannabis consumer. She has a THC line that includes mini joints, flower packs, and pre-packed bowls available in 13 states and across Canada. Plus, there’s the Jane West travel collection of sleek and discreet accessories and the high-end Jane West glassware line with GRAV Labs. Not to mention, Jane West is launching a whole new line of cannabis accessories (ashtrays, rolling trays, grinders, bubblers, and more) in North America and Europe later this year. Martha Stewart’s got nothing on West’s lifestyle brand. With cannabis legalization spreading faster than a 2020 pandemic these days (like, in a good way) you might say that Jane West is the Jane West of Weed™.
What spurred this growth? Jane West just wanted to go to an event where she could smoke some pot.
Sparking It Up
“I’ve always considered myself the customer in everything I do in the cannabis space,” West says. It’s March 2021, and we’re at her home in Denver discussing her travel column “High From Here,” launching in Sensi next month (May 2021). “When we were at the dawn of legalization in 2014, I wanted to cater to customers like me,” she says. “Women were declaring, ‘I really want to go to a party where I can smoke some pot!’ But that didn’t exist.” So she launched Edible Events and held consumption-friendly cannabis events at a Denver art gallery, a move that garnered national media attention that propelled West into the spotlight…where she was in clear view of the higher-ups at her corporate job. Two days after being featured on CNBC’s evening news with Brian Williams, West was informed she would need to resign.
West is excited as she tells the story. No doubt some of her excitement stems from being around humans outside of her family and those in their pandemic pod. It’s been a year since she last attended an event. The last was High Style, a fashion show in Denver for Project Runway All-Star Korto Momolu’s collection for Women Grow, an organization West founded a few months after those corporate paychecks stopped coming to help other entrepreneurial women succeed in the brand-new cannabis space. So she’s obviously eager to get back out into the world, to be part of the community—almost as eager as she is for cannabis to get out there and be a part of communities everywhere.
“Social use is going to be at the forefront of the next wave of cannabis legalization.”
– Jane West
“We know that cannabis can be safely incorporated into our communities,” West says. “Social use is going to be at the forefront of the next wave of cannabis legalization.” She draws attention to the number of empty storefronts and businesses the pandemic has left in communities around the country and to the fact that the majority of the country now has notable cannabis legalization on the books, with more to come. With all that there will be a growing number of people who want to get out of their homes (and small apartments) to consume this newly legal product, as well as a desire to interact with others. The table is set for a thriving, centered community to emerge. The first step to this utopian future? Normalization. And while some cities have made strides in the right direction, there’s still a ways to go.
“The entire reason I became so famous in 2014 was that I was a mom of two willing to be on television and say, ‘I use marijuana, and that’s okay.’ That got me on the five-o’clock news with Brian Williams,” West recalls. “But the reason I did it was so important, I really did have kids, and, at the time, nobody talked about smoking pot at all. Nobody talked about using edibles at all.” The people who did discuss it, she says, were not women and they didn’t have kids, but West says that has changed.
“Now on playgrounds and in the school yard, parents are openly talking within earshot of kids. Of course, I hear it more inevitably,” she says, which makes sense since it’s part of a conversation Jane West literally started. “Moms are out there talking about what edibles they’re buying. It’s been one of the biggest changes I’ve observed: moms are talking about cannabis on the playground. That’s normalization.”
Keep Heading West
Jane West is always thinking five years ahead. The running joke among those who work in cannabis is that the industry operates in dog years, each 365-day cycle the equivalent of seven times that. In this federally illegal industry, so very much can happen in five years. Five years ago, cannabis was fully legal in only four states: Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. As of March 2020, it was legal in 15. In April, New York made it 16; then New Mexico joined the fray. The thing is, people in every state have been consuming cannabis for as long as the states have existed, just as humans have been consuming it for as long as humans and cannabis have existed. People love the plant—always have, always will, no matter what type of propaganda they are fed. What stigmatization has manage to stifle is the evolution of cannabis as an industry. It’s stunted its growth in what may best be described as an adolescent phase, a period marked by awkward lewd jokes (see: stoner comedies), lack of awareness and style (see: clear glass bongs in unwieldy shapes caked in resin and hidden from view), and an inability to speak to girls (see: the majority of products on dispensary shelves).
“What hasn’t caught up with normalization are the accessories and the products and the consumption methodology.”
– Jane West
Neither cannabis companies nor the ancillary providers can be faulted for creating products that appeal to an existing demographic of consumers who readily and happily hand over their dollars to them as if it’s normal. Because it is. “What hasn’t caught up with normalization are the accessories and the products and the consumption methodology,” West says. “I’m still behind the scenes in so many meetings where people are wanting these really high doses [of THC], looking at it like THC percentages are the most important factor in decision making. And they’re catering to an audience of the moment, but they’re not looking ahead to the future.”
West on the other hand is trying to shape that future into a style that suits her, that vibes with her personal tastes as well as the aesthetics of the Jane West persona. Because when Jane West was born seven years ago, her stylish sensibilities were not being met by anything on the market. “When I started Edible Events, I was looking for five bongs that were all the same to put on a bar, but I didn’t want them to be obvious,” she says. “I wanted them to be functional and beautiful, but I could not find what I was looking for. Some of the more artful pieces I found were handmade, so if you broke one, you couldn’t replace it. These were things that were challenging me as the consumer. I wanted to solve those challenges, so I created a glass line.”
A Bong for the Bride
“I want women who are 25 now to want bongs on their gift registry when they’re 35,” West says. She’s looking to the future again and working to create it, in this case through a new eponymous line of cannabis accessories created in partnership with the manufacturing division of High Tide, the same publicly traded Canadian company behind Snoop Dogg’s line.
“Cannabis is for everyone,” she says. “But brands have been catering to a very defined, limited aesthetic that we’ve all just accepted, when really what we want is something that fits well into our lifestyles and our homes.” That void—and the opportunity to fill it—motivates her. “Glassware really is the best way to consume cannabis. You can clean it to perfection, it heats really well, and it provides a superior tasting experience.”
“I want women who are 25 now to want bongs on their gift registry when they’re 35.”
– Jane West
Her first glass line—a collaboration with GRAV Labs out of Austin—came to market at a time and place she decided she wanted to define her vision. “I wanted to show the world that there was another way [smoking devices] could look,” she says. “It was so well received, but it was also exquisite in certain ways that made it unaffordable. I wanted to create something accessible and available to everyone.”
With prices about half that of the GRAV line, the new statement-making glassware line was inspired by the ’20s of the past and the ’20s to come. Unlike the previous line, West designed it with transparent, textured glass because, she says, “my customers love being able to see the smoke and see the density of the smoke.” But most importantly, West wanted the glass to be captivating.
Her new line also features a textured patterned glass that helps it fit into a home’s existing aesthetic and also keeps it from looking dirty after just one use. West took inspiration from everywhere for the new line, not relying on an existing mold or expectation of existing smoking accessories. “There were no shapes, no glass, no designs or concepts we’re trying to rely on. And by doing that—normalizing it—with these patterns, they’re just rocks glasses. I really do walk through Crate & Barrel and think, if they can make it, I can make it.”
She’s built her brand around that mantra—literally. The Jane West brand is fueled in part by a crowdfunding campaign run through the tech-startup site Republic.co, which offers an equity stake to anyone who invests. The initial Republic raise closed $500,000+ from more than 2,500 investors in 42 countries. On Republic, the company has closed $500,000+ from more than 2,500 investors in 42 countries. Prior to diving into crowdfunding, West raised $1.3M from 22 investors—80 percent of whom are women and people of color. As of this writing, the current round has raised 300% of its minimum goal from 454 investors with a $25 minimum investment. The round closes on April 25, 2021, so there’s still time for you to claim your own stake in the Jane West brand.
Investing in cannabis can be intimidating, no doubt, but a low-risk opportunity like this one makes it accessible—helps to normalize it for a wider audience than otherwise would be exposed to cannabis in this arena. Which is right on point for Jane West.
The Jane West Brand is fueled in part by a crowdfunding campaign run through the tech-startup site republic.co, which offers an equity stake to anyone who invests.