2024 Innovation Awards Judge Mary Jane Oatman

Q&A with 2024 Innovation Awards Judge Mary Jane Oatman

Mary Jane Oatman, Chief Operating Officer of the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA), is a passionate advocate for Indigenous communities and a dedicated leader in the cannabis industry. As an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe and a descendant of the Delaware Tribe, Mary Jane has worked tirelessly to reclaim Indigenous cultures and restore traditional economies in hemp and cannabis. She founded the Indigenous CANNabis Coalition (ICANNC) and publishes THC Magazine, focusing on Indigenous contributions to the cannabis sector. Her extensive work includes advocating for tribal sovereignty, enhancing government-to-government relationships, and promoting cannabis health equity.

We were honored to have Oatman as a judge for the 2023 Cannabis & Tech Today Innovation Awards. Her extensive experience in the industry and passion for environmental sustainability, community empowerment make her an invaluable voice to to promote the most innovative and ethically conscious businesses in the industry.

Oatman discussed what the awards mean to the cannabis space and how new technology is driving the industry forward in a recent interview with Cannabis & Tech Today.

Cannabis & Tech Today: Cannabis has innovated a ton and continues to do so. What do you consider innovative in today’s cannabis space?

Mary Jane Oatman: I think the innovative work in the cannabis space today revolves around personal use devices and post-COVID innovations for contactless smoking. These advancements have really improved the vibe of consumption lounges, making them very exciting.

C&T: What kind of impact should tech have on cannabis today and into the future?

MJO: Tech should play a significant role in conservation as we prepare for federal descheduling or legalization. Cannabis tech is critical for protecting Mother Earth by addressing the environmental impacts of bad cannabis practices. Innovations in water monitoring, measuring, and metering electrical use on the cultivation side are essential. Tech ensures compliance and safety in products but is also pivotal for sustainable cultivation practices.

C&T: Judges’ opinions matter but so too does the public when it comes to winning an Inno Award. What does it take to become a hit with the public?

MJO: A product needs to be digestible and clearly articulate its value to both operators and consumers. The “why” behind the product is crucial—if there’s a heartfelt story, it stands out. Affordability, convenience, and location are also important. Brands that are intentional about sharing their commitment to the cannabis community tend to resonate more with the public.

C&T: What is your favorite piece of cannabis tech you own or have owned? Why does it stand out to you?

MJO: My favorite piece of cannabis tech is the FreshTag 419, a contactless smokable device invented by two young men in New York post-COVID. It’s practical and functional, designed because one of the inventors’ dads got sick from social smoking. The story behind it, coupled with its practical solution to a problem, makes it stand out. Additionally, I love Jane West’s Solo, a tiny pin pipe that is elegant and functional.

I’m also a huge fan of the Hi Five Duo. My mom once started her truck on fire while dabbing—like fully engulfed center console! Propane is a huge safety issue that tech solved in my circle. It was crazy! They definitely represent New York loud and proud.

2024 Innovation Awards Submissions are Open!

Don’t miss your chance to be recognized for your innovative contributions to the cannabis industry. Submit your entries for the 2024 Cannabis & Tech Today Innovation Awards before the Aug. 26 deadline.

Editor Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


  • Cannabis & Tech Today is the premier publication for inspiring business profiles, exclusive interviews with thought leaders in the field, science innovations, and insights on new legislation and growth in the cannabis market.

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