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Women of Cannabis Conference 2019

My name is Nichole West. I am 34 years old – and in weed years that feels like 95.

Last year our lives changed dramatically when we became cannabis felons. Actually the first “white collar criminals” in this history of regulated cannabis to be exact ….. On November 29th 2018 we plead guilty to a DF4 (Colorado Cannabis drug felony distribution) and were sentenced to 30 days in Denver county jail. Our charges were based off of the fact that I was the Vice President of operations and Ashley was the Retail Operations Manager at Sweet Leaf Marijuana Centers, and we drastically underestimated the importance of “error on the side of caution”.

I ran a tight ship and was a bit of a hard ass for a boss – but I honestly thought that between me, my team of lawyers and ex cannabis regulators that worked for us understood what the law was saying. We interpreted the law as if “it doesn’t say we can’t”…. but what I have learned is I will forever interpret the law on cannabis if “it doesn’t say we CAN” I’m not doing it AT ALL!

The law (R402(A)) at the time stated “A retail marijuana store and its employees are prohibited from selling more than one ounce or its equivalent in Retail Marijuana Product in a single sales transaction.”….. we interpreted “a single sales transaction” as one interaction at a store…. but apparently the “spirit of the law” is that a “single sales transaction” means “business day”…… my thesaurus must have been broken. Our interpretation of this law ruined many people’s momentum and really hurt the spirits and hearts of hundreds. I feel and have felt like a complete failure about this since the day any of my old team had to suffer spending any time in jail, lose their jobs or be displaced financially. But my mistakes do not and will not define me. I have learned from this – I have grown from this – and I have become a more cautious and careful leader. I ask more questions and say NO a lot more now. For those of you who worked for me in the past who thought I was strict….. imagine what people think now.

To anyone who my actions hurt – I am here – and I want to make amends if I haven’t already. I can’t change the past and I can’t fix what’s broken – but maybe I can do something to help your future.

My name is Nichole West, I am a failure, loser, student, teacher, friend, mentee, mentor, philosopher, dreamer, daughter and one bad ass dog mom….. and if any of those things can be of help to you – don’t ever hesitate to ask me for help.

Also – if you just want to call and yell me how much I hurt you – I’m here for that too. For friends or colleagues who have been sitting on the sidelines wondering “is it too soon” to make jokes or ask questions – the answer is no! I’m here and I’m quickly learning that my dad was always right and “it’s what you learn after you know it all that really counts” . I’ve been in the cannabis industry for going on 12 years working on licensed and regulated business dating back to my first license for cannabis in 2009 in the City of Long Beach – I’ve opened 23 cannabis stores in the past 10 years in 4 states and have had up to 400 employees at any one time. I’ve mentored – I’ve been mentored – I’ve been a teacher and I’ll forever be a student.

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