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Canna Aid

Jane West: Ambassador of Class

Jane West is on fire.

Not literally, mind you. But the cannabis pioneer and activist’s new bubbler and water pipe designs  are legitimately burning up the market (and a heap of flower too). West’s latest set of creations, the Twenties Collection, has taken the cleansing, healing flame of flower consumption to a new level of class. Just in case you don’t know, in the cannabis space, Jane West is synonymous with her brand. And that brand represents West’s belief that “cannabis use promotes wellness, prevents against illness, and gives her a general overall feeling of well-being to her often hectic life of wife, mother, and CEO of her lifestyle brand, Jane West, Inc.” That’s what OG weed authority High Times Magazine wrote when they profiled West last year – but we wanted to know more. West, after all, is responsible for giving women in the cannabis industry an active and affirmative voice, among many, many other professional accomplishments.

. . . everyone thought we were crazy. Only Colorado and Washington had legalized . . . so I decided I wanted to do an event . . . I wanted to engage cannabis in an art gallery, for instance, with live music and catering, like something you’d go out and do on a Friday night.

So, one Saturday afternoon, while a cooler-than-average springtime blew through the mountain west, I gave Ms. West a phone call. And our chat was nothing like the weather; it was warm and affiliative, sharp and sweet, like the summer to come.

West began by getting us all up to speed on her recent creative activities, but also wanted to remind readers about her storied background, telling me, “I have a master’s degree in social work. I worked with the United Nations in New York, before 9/11. But I moved to Denver and got my master’s in social work. I was working a social work position with high school students when Colorado legalized [recreational cannabis] in 2013. I’ve always enjoyed cannabis unashamedly, as a mom and whatnot.”

How West got involved with cannabis culture and the cannabis space was part of her personal and professional evolution, she continued. “This was a decade ago, and everyone thought we were crazy. Only Colorado and Washington had legalized [cannabis] … so I decided I wanted to do an event, a cannabis event, because the events I had been to . . . well I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. They were back-alley affairs, not my scene. I wanted to engage cannabis in an art gallery, for instance, with live music and catering, like something you’d go out and do on a Friday night. So, I produced a series of events; I called them ‘Edible Events.’ This is what began my journey towards finding beautiful glassware.”

Jane West_cobalt_beaker

Consumers aren’t hiding bongs anymore; they’re putting them out when guests come. Ten years ago, this was a forbidden ritual with objects that were designed to be easily hidden... I propose the opposite.

West’s events caught more than just the eyes and hearts of Denver residents, though. The local police got involved and quashed West’s foray into public smoking events, after three monumental, media-savvy iterations. “The mayor sent a SWAT team and put an end to my cannabis events,” she recalls. But the rough actions of the local government did little to discourage West. Spurred on by the concept of aesthetically pleasing smoking environments that she had developed and championed, as well as her new-found, national public visibility (West was famously interviewed by NBC’s Brian Williams on her evolving cannabis views, and told the nation that as a mom, she smoked marijuana and thought that was just fine) she began to think seriously about the ultimate smoking apparatus.

“For those events, I wanted to have a bong bar. All they [Denver head shops, circa 2014] had were these standard bongs, which were mostly made from scientific glassware manufactured in China that was all stuck together. I was finding absolutely nothing that fit my aesthetic. I wanted something that was beautiful, that might change perceptions of the cannabis consumption experience. When I did find items I liked, they were often handmade, one-of-a-kind bongs – difficult to replace or reproduce. That’s another issue I identified when I entered the glassware space.”

The end of live cannabis events opened the door of opportunity, West relates, and gave her time to gauge her path forward.

Among her best ideas at that threshold: “I realized I could start designing and making the types of glassware that are not only fitting for cannabis events, but really speak to the postmodern cannabis experience. Consumers aren’t hiding bongs anymore; they’re putting them out when guests come. Ten years ago, this was a forbidden ritual with objects that were designed to be easily hidden…  I propose the opposite.”

With the Twenties Collection (manufactured by West Coast Gifts), West is right on target with that concept, having designed and delivered a product that is truly epic. The materials she chose, including 100 percent borosilicate glass, make these pieces sturdy in a way lab glass can never aspire to, and the stunning design upends the entire way consumers have viewed and used bongs since time immemorial. The Twenties Collection consists of alluring art objects that are as beautiful as they are useful. West is keen on these concerns, and told us, “In designing, I take into account every aspect of functionality, especially the cleaning part. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful bongs out there that are impossible to clean; the Twenties Collection addresses this common concern through design. It’s not just a functional object that’s aesthetically pleasing . . . I want something that kindles memories of the past, that fits into the aesthetic of our homes—but also something that is “new” and “wow,” in the sense it’s something you haven’t seen before.”

That sense of freshness, that postmodern newness that West aspires to, she reminds us, is lighting up this year. “We all want to maximize our cannabis experience,” West opines. “Really, nothing compares to the ritual that goes along with grinding your flower, releasing those terpenes, smelling that flower, putting it into a bong, lighting it, and inhaling the smoke. The high that results is really unique. Nothing compares to that experience. A decade ago, when I started, big time companies were like, ‘flower’s gonna be dead, that’s over.’ I’m so glad it hasn’t gone that direction; now, across the country, it’s still the way for most consumers. The Twenties Collection is the perfect way to keep that fire burning.”

Canna Aid

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