Marijuana: Wanda James on closure of edibles business, MMJ banking, Obama and more
Simply Pure, one of the local medical marijuana industry's most prominent edibles companies, has suspended operations -- because, says co-owner Wanda James, the inability to get banking services makes doing business untenable at this time. James has plenty to say about this situation, and she also shares her thoughts about President Barack Obama, whose election she worked for in 2008. But not this year.
"You can't run a business without a bank account, but the only way to get a bank account now is to lie," James says. "And that just doesn't make sense to me. We are not criminals. So why should we have to lie about a business that's registered with the Secretary of State?"
James and her husband, Scott Durrah, are prominent restaurateurs, with a new enterprise, Jezebel's, set to open soon in the original location of the Squeaky Bean, at 3301 Tejon Street, next to Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe. But she also became a prominent part of the medical marijuana scene via Apothecary of Colorado and Simply Pure. Indeed, when The Daily Show came to Denver in 2010 to put together a satirical piece on the business, James was prominently featured; at one point, correspondent Jason Jones licked her hand. See the video below.
Jason Jones takes a taste of James.
In addition, as we noted in this previous profile, James, a former member of the Navy whose duties during her years in the service included tracking submarines, served as Representative Jared Polis's first campaign manager, and she also ran the 2006 congressional race in Colorado Springs for Lieutenant Colonel Jay Fawcett. Additionally, she and Durrah served on the National Finance Committee for Obama.
Since Obama's 2008 election, however, James has been disappointed in his administration's approach to medical marijuana -- not just the crackdown on dispensaries near schools overseen by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, but also banking regulations that have made financial institutions dump MMJ operations because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
To James, the result is "hypocrisy of gargantuan levels. We have a black man in the White House who I respect a lot, and he does most of the things I want to see from a politician. He's failed on some things I'd like to see fixed, like the Patriot Act. But in 2008, I not only supported him, I went on Fox TV fighting for him. I raised a tremendous amount of money and gave a tremendous amount of money personally. And this time, I'm not giving any money to anyone."
Why not? She replies as if addressing the president: "I fought to get you elected, and when my business needed you, you turned your back on me."
Continue to read more of our interview with Wanda James, including her thoughts about Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.