Lady Business: Shawn DeNae of Washington Bud Company

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Shawn DeNae is the CEO of Washington Bud Company, Wagenseller Building Company, Cancadia Corporation, A Cannabis  I met her when she flew me up to Seattle, Washington to address the MJBA Women’s Alliance monthly gathering a few months back to speak on their presentation “Power to Lead”  with other respectable, classy entrepreneurs and activists. She writes below about her experiences leading up to how she got involved in the industry, and her adventures through parenting while under the eye of less progressive states.  — Diane R. Fornbacher, Ladybud Magazine Publisher

I was a Sturgis High School athlete bedridden with a broken hip when I was introduced to a “marijuana cigarette” in the mid 1970’s.  I have been a fan ever since, and my first entrepreneurial business was born.

Coming home for a “nooner” in the spring of 1987 to find sheriff deputies hauling our mature flowering plants out the back door into a paddy wagon was a huge slap in the face.  We had hired a babysitter for our infant son and when she suspected we were growing weed, she told her mom who called the newly implemented Crime Stoppers line. ‘Largest Marijuana Grow Operation Busted’ hit the headlines the next day.

The hope for an afternoon of friskiness with my husband was replaced by months of extreme worry for the future of our family. The charges were eventually dropped due to hearsay evidence, and we left that small Wyoming town for Seattle where we scaled down our garden and established our family in a more tolerant state. And then D.A.R.E. came to school.  Our 5th grader came announced that the policeman, the one with the gun, told him we were criminals, and it was his duty to report us. That did it.  We took down that tiny garden and got out of the cannabis scene altogether.  For almost two decades during which my pain grew to the point that I thought I would be in a wheelchair by age 50,  self-medicating with alcohol and pain pills had me living a life I was not happy to live.

That all changed a weekend in August of 2010.  We had just gotten off the golf course and headed to downtown Seattle for Shawn Denaedinner where we witnessed a long line heading into Hempfest. Joining the line and entering the Protestival, we surely stuck out as such “squares” in our matching golf outfits!  But our eyes were opened, and it was time to get back in the game!

Our Washington Bud Company strains have since become favored in the WA medical marijuana market.  Navigating the transition to recreational has been very tricky — the state has approved our application but the county is following suit with many municipalities imposing bans. Legalization is sexy but implementation sucks!  Navigating the murky waters of a legal system in Washington State is emotionally exhausting and financially draining. As other states legalize marijuana, I hope they will learn the lesson of honoring the plant for its medicinal nature first by instituting a strong medical program that ensures safe access by patients and then follow with a system to allow adult recreational use.  Regardless, anyone needs to be allowed to grow their own; otherwise, citizens will once again be criminalized, and the War on Drugs takes on a new twist.

RELATED: The Heart of Leadership: Why Women + Pot = Power

I try to do my part by involving myself in industry organizations that focus on education. I am extremely enthusiastic to be one of the founding members of the Marijuana Business Association Women’s Alliance.  I’m an active member of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, Americans for Safe Access, a Hempfest VIP Member, eWomen Network, co-founder of Women of Weed and the R5 Cooperative. Last legislative session I was chair of the Health Before Happy Hour Campaign in WA State.

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Shawn DeNae with ACLU Executive Director Alison Holcomb at the Seattle Hempfest, 2014

This year I am part of the Washington Cannabis Coalition Coalition Project; a group of over 20 organizations seeking common ground to get the laws passed this industry needs to thrive.  I have written for industry magazines and have been a featured speaker at the Marijuana National Cannabis Convention. Participating in panels and giving testimony to educate legislators and rule makers is new territory for me which has taught me the value of how our democratic governments works. I plan to continue the education until the fear of cannabis becomes the acceptance of cannabis as a valued resource.

Shawn DeNae has been highlighted in several publications and videos including Evergreen, The Pioneers, Dope Magazine March 2014 Issue and As the Grass Grows.  She can be reached at 206-919-675, via Facebook, or Twitter.

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