The 2021 CEA Awards were established to recognize distinguished individuals and organizations in the Controlled Environment Agriculture Industry across North America. In this series we will be highlighting our winners and their accomplishments.

We are excited to announce the 2021 CEA Award winner for Cannabis Person of the Year goes to Wanda James. Wanda James is the first African American woman to own a marijuana dispensary in the United States. Wanda plans to use cannabis to evoke change.

As an Air Force child, Wanda spent her youth living in Colorado, Germany and England. Her personal values encouraged her to go through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (N.R.O.T.C.) program at the University of Colorado and receive her commission. Wanda was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She earned her own stripes as a Naval Officer where she worked with the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) to hunt down submarines.

After managing two congressional campaigns, including Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado Governor, Wanda wasquickly recognized and appointed to Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 Task Force Work Groups. Amendment 64 helped end the cannabis prohibition in Colorado – virtually creating the recreational landscape as we know it.

Wanda is focused on social equity and justice within cannabis, and her work on reform has led to her to be called upon by a host of national politicians including Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S Representative Barbara Lee and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who appointed Wanda to the Colorado Tourism Board.

Whether it’s speaking out on the lack of Black ownership in cannabis, over policing g Black neighborhoods or the mass incarceration that still exists for people of color, Wanda is a fierce advocate for those without a voice.

She is also the founder and President of the Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI), a marketing and consulting firm that specializes in diversity development, regulatory framework and marketing. The group is dedicated to providing innovative solutions through strategic alliances and business development surrounding the legalization of cannabis.

Congratulations to Wanda James on receiving the 2021 CEA Cannabis Person of the Year!

For full list of winners:

The winners were selected by a prestigious, independent awards committee comprised of agriculture professionals from Artemis, Cargill, Fluence by OSRAM, and Schneider Electric. The committee received over 130 qualified nominations for the awards and selected 11 category winners and 3 honorable mention awards.