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Fourteen Years Later, Wanda James Sustains Simply Pure’s Mission

Sheldon Sommer

by Sheldon Sommer

February 15, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho
Fourteen Years Later, Wanda James Sustains Simply Pure’s Mission

Wanda James, a prominent political activist and entrepreneur, is one of the most widely renowned leaders in today’s cannabis scene. A veteran and former Fortune 100 executive, James has dedicated the past 14 years to combatting stigma and racial inequity in the cannabis industry. Her Denver-based dispensary, Simply Pure, made history in 2010 as the first Black-owned and veteran-owned dispensary in the United States.

James Opens First Ever Black-Owned Dispensary in 2010

From the start, Wanda James was already performing inspiring feats. James was the first in her family to earn a college degree. As a CU Boulder student, she became the first African American woman commissioned through the school’s Naval ROTC unit. In her years as a Naval officer, she spent her service working with the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) to hunt down submarines.

After completing her military tour, James went on to dominate in the corporate world. She moved to Los Angeles where she acted as the Corporate Director of Marketing at Southern California Presbyterian Homes. She also served as the Southwest Regional Sales Director for Unum Insurance and Avery Dennison, both of which were Fortune 100 companies. It was also during this time that she met her current husband and business partner, Scott Durrah.

Wanda James’ entrance into the cannabis industry occurred in 2004, when she and Durrah relocated to Colorado. Their first dispensary was known as the Apothecary of Colorado. The establishment went on to put the couple on the map as the first Black licensees in the US to own a dispensary, growing facility, and edibles company. From these roots, the iconic dispensary, Simply Pure, was formed.

Simply Pure Supports Evolving Cannabis Landscape

wanda james
James (middle) at Simply Pure in Denver, Colorado 2021. Photo by Maddie Malhotra.

Simply Pure was founded as a healthy alternative edibles company in 2010. Using his extensive experience as an executive chef, Durrah provided the knowledge and skill to craft high-quality edibles. The business was featured on The Daily Show, BET’s Smoke, and Bong Appetit. These appearances further earned the company a reputation for high standards and excellence. As of now, Simply Pure has expanded to include not only a line of edibles. The company has its own storefront and delivery service in the Denver area.  

Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
  • Peace of mind
  • Enhanced legal protection
  • Access to higher potency strains
  • Save up to 25% on cannabis purchases
  • Skip the line at the dispensary

At Simply Pure, customers can shop for black-owned or women-owned brands highlighted on display at the dispensary. Always keeping up with the evolving landscape of the cannabis industry, the business also features and promotes cutting-edge products and brands run by individuals who come from underrepresented communities. With their company, James and Durrah remain committed to the mission of advocating for Black ownership and inclusion in the American cannabis landscape.

James Continues Advocacy, Social Justice Work

In the political realm, James has been involved in the management of two congressional campaigns, including that of Representative Jared Polis, who now serves as Colorado Governor. She also was appointed to former US President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, as well as the National Finance Committee for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. James additionally represented the cannabis community by serving on former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 Task Force Work Groups. Amendment 64 contributed to the end of cannabis prohibition in Colorado and opened up the state to the current recreational industry it supports to this day.

James’ work on reform supporting social equity and justice in cannabis-related politics has attracted the attention of multiple national politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Most recently, Wanda James was elected to the University of Colorado Board of Regents as the first Black woman on the board in over 44 years. In service to her Alma Mater, James seeks to foster greater inclusivity at UC and promote accessible educational opportunities for all students.

With her work as an advocate for cannabis reform spanning from the political to entrepreneurial, James was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Cannabis by High Times magazine in 2018. In 2016, she was also named one of the 50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry by Cannabis Business Executive. James has further been featured in numerous other media specials publicized by outlets such as The BBC, Democracy Now, The Atlantic, MSNBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and CNBC’s Marijuana USA (among others).

Simply Pure Is More Than A Dispensary

With a powerful force like James at the helm and a team of social justice advocates on the leadership board, Simply Pure is more than a dispensary. The business comprises an overall team of committed and active members of the cannabis community who aim to inspire the future of cannabis through education, quality products, and safety. The company endeavors to provide equal access to positive cannabis experiences for all individuals in the cannabis community. This team of strong advocates for legalization and representation is proud to be making strides in the evolution of the industry, and they wish to invite everyone to join in the effort to smash stigma and promote justice for all cannabis users, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals

Post Your Comments

Maria says:

February 15, 2024 at 10:02 am

Sko Buffs!


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