Ms. James is the co-founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary and is a leading advocate in the cannabis industry. In 2009, she and her husband, Scott Durrah, became the first African Americans, legally licensed, to own a dispensary. 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 company is dedicated to consistently providing innovative solutions through strategic alliances and business development surrounding the legalization of cannabis.
Wanda’s political and entrepreneurial work on cannabis reform has led to her being named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Cannabis by High Times magazine in 2018 and one of the 2016 Cannabis Business Executive (CBE) 50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry. She has been featured on the covers of Sensi Magazine, Cannabis Dispensary Magazine, Cannabis &Tech Magazine and Black Enterprise. She and her husband have been featured in numerous national and international shows including The BBC, Democracy Now, The Atlantic, MIC.com, MSNBC, Smile Jamaica, Viceland, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CBS Sunday Morning Holiday Special, “Eat, Drink and be Merry” and CNBC’s Marijuana USA, to name a few.
Assisting in the development of the policies for medicinal cannabis, led to Ms. James’ selection for the Amendment 64 campaign committee which legalized cannabis in Colorado. After legalization, she worked on several of former Governor Hickenlooper’s cannabis work groups for edibles, packaging, dispensary operations and communications. Her expertise on cannabis reform, regulation and policy has assisted numerous municipalities including, Jamaica, Maryland, and California, in their legalization efforts.
Ms. James prior political involvements have included Jared Polis for Congress in Colorado’s CD2 and Lt. Colonel Jay Fawcett for Congress in Colorado’s CD5. In 2008, Ms. James was appointed to President Obama’s National Finance Committee and became one of the largest bundlers of donations for President Barack Obama in Colorado. In 2018, Ms. James was appointed to Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ Transition Team and currently serves as an advisor to the Governor.
Graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder, she was commissioned an officer in the United States Navy and served for four years in Naval Integrated Underwater Surveillance (IUSS). She was stationed in Virginia Beach, Bermuda and New York City.
Ms. James is a graduate of the Inaugural Class of the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute at the University of Southern California and a former President of the National Women’s Political Caucus. She was appointed to the Los Angeles Small and Local Business Commission and sat on the Board of Directors for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. Ms. James was also a former member of the University of Colorado Alumni Board of Directors.