Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council and Theory Wellness Partner to Host Expungement Event at Dispensary in Chicopee, MA – Cannabis Dispensary


When Wanda James was working to open her first cannabis dispensary over ten years ago, she was poised with many stressors, such as raising capital and worrying about not going to jail in the midst of it.

In 2009, James and her husband, Scott Durrah, opened the first Black-owned dispensary in Denver, Colo., the Apothecary of Colorado. And in 2010, the couple launched Simply Pure edibles and became the first African Americans in the state “licensed to own a dispensary, a grow operation and an edibles company,” Cannabis Dispensary previously reported.

The cannabis industry was in a “very different place back then,” James said. Not only did she have to stress about acquiring funding, but she also had to worry about the negative comments she would get from others on how she was making a wrong decision.

“In 2009, I remember The Denver Post wrote an article called ‘Coming Out of The Cannabis Closet,’ and I got so many phone calls from all of the politicians that I work with and business people telling me that life as I knew it was over, [and] I ruined my reputation,” James said. “And that was a real thing.”

James expressed that the money involved in opening a dispensary in 2009 was first and last month’s rent payment, a security deposit, and whatever extra money owners wanted to put into the business.

“If you wanted $5 cabinets or if you wanted $3,000 cabinets, it was entirely up to you,” she said. “Our first dispensary and grow facility probably cost us around $200,000, and that was financed through credit cards. … A few friends put some money in, but I didn’t have a finance team, and we didn’t have to do all the things required today because [back then] it wasn’t about money; it was about not going to jail.”

Simply Pure

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