Why This Woman Wants To Elevate The Cannabis Industry

Photographed by Zander Price.
Just over a year ago, Jesse Meighan attended a fundraising event for her boyfriend's cannabis media company. "Unfortunately, as most cannabis events and as most fundraising events are, it was a sausage party," she says. "So I found the one woman in the room to chat up, and it was Jane."

By then, Jane West had already founded Women Grow, a professional organization for women in the cannabis industry, and Edible Events, a company that plans and hosts marijuana-friendly dinner parties. Together, Meighan and West launched West's self-titled lifestyle brand, which focuses on introducing women to marijuana who might not otherwise be open to it. That takes the form of beautifully designed smoking accessories, but also approachable education aimed specifically at new users.

Today, Meighan is the COO of the Jane West brand. We talked to Meighan, 32, about why she was interested in starting the company and how creating cannabis gear for women could elevate the entire industry.

How do you feel about the traditional "stoner aesthetic?"
"It definitely turns a lot of people off because there’s so much identity wrapped up into it, whereas people don’t necessarily tie their identity to being wine drinker. I don't want to totally dismiss that aesthetic because it’s OG and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I do think it’s sort of underdeveloped and very masculine. I think it is a dude world and there’s not a lot that serves women with regards to the aesthetic. And some women love that, but it feels very masculine to me."

What did you want to change in the cannabis industry with the Jane West brand?
"I feel like a lot of the brands on the market today that are speaking to women are not actually run or owned by women. I really like to see by women and for women products. And that's starting to happen more and more in the consumables space, but it’s not happening in the accessories and ancillary products space.

"We want to give women products that are as beautiful as barware and as stylish as home goods — products you want to show off on your counter for people to see. It’s not the kind of dirty bong you hide when your parents come over. We really want to elevate these products to a level of high design and home goods.

"The second component to that is consumer education. A lot of the companies that are selling products online are not talking about what it’s actually for. People are using cloak and dagger language like, 'Use it for tobacco or herb.' And there's kind of a wink and a nod that everyone knows what it's actually for. A lot of that has to do with [regulations around] banking and payment processing.

"But for a new user who’s trying to get educated, that makes it really difficult because you can't actually find information about, like, 'What do I put in a vaporizer? How does it work?' These are questions a new user might have, and I know that because I had them — I thought these products were beautiful but I had no idea what to put inside them. And going to a dispensary and asking these questions is really intimidating.

We focus specifically on women because we are women, and we felt like no one was speaking to us.

Jesse Meighan
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"So we wanted to provide women who are curious with a sort of soft place to land and provide direct consumer education. We’re going to use the actual language and tell you what it’s for and how to use it. For that reason, we can’t sell our products online through our own website because we’re outspoken about what the products are for. But we’re willing to forge that path even if it makes things harder in the short term."

Why focus specifically on women?
"We focus specifically on women because we are women, and we felt like no one was speaking to us in this space. No one was creating products we would want to use, or gift to other women, or that we would want to have out on our mantle at home. We’re definitely not creating products that are pink and sparkly and pandering to women. Our design aesthetic is actually pretty gender neutral. But we want to speak to women because that’s who we are that’s what we know."

How does cannabis and activism around marijuana fit into our politically charged world?
"We kind of position ourselves squarely on the recreational side of cannabis and the design side of products, and we leave activism to the activists. Which is not a cop out, it's just that there are people out there who have been doing this for a very long time who know so much more than we do. So we always want to defer to them on those topics.

"I will say, though, the legalization of cannabis is deeply tied to mass incarceration and arrests for drugs that disproportionally affect people of color. It is very political and it's not just for the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness reasons — although there are those too, people should be able to do what they want to with their bodies, including what plants they want to consume — but there’s this deeper political importance to it as well."

This month, we’re celebrating
High January by leaving our stoner stereotypes behind. Instead, we’ll take long-time smokers and total newbies through the various complexities of the current cannabis world. It’s 2017 and we’re ready to blaze a new trail.

(Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)
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