“Everything we do is from the heart to help others, especially those impacted by the War On Drugs like we have been,” shares MD Numbers Co-founder Marie Montmarquet. She and her brother Allen Hackett feel blessed to have come from such humble beginnings and successfully create a family of vertically integrated cannabis brands — MD Farms, Marie’s Deliverables, and Legacy Coterie — that provide a range of goods and services to the California supply chain, retail customers, and equity community. “We want to lead by example and show that the only secret is hard work, and that we can all be transparent and win,” Marie says.
A legacy cannabis operator who’s been passionate about the plant for over 13 years, Marie’s cannabis business expertise and equity activism have put her in the national spotlight. She’s championing equity in every way possible. That’s why we’re shining a spotlight on the work she is doing for the industry with a Cannabis Industry Spotlight feature.
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
During my junior year of college, I immediately fell in love with the plant, including the cultural, medical and social aspects of it. Early on, I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry and made the move to California to gain more hands on experience and cultivate my entrepreneurial skills.
Tell us what you’ve been up to in 2020!
I’m grateful we’ve built an amazing delivery and cultivation team, which allows me to focus on other operations and advocacy full time this year. I am focusing on consulting, sales and distribution with Legacy Coterie, a project that primarily involves building brands and developing strategies for companies to be profitable, compliant, and adaptable. I’m also an Equity Advisor for Success Centers in San Francisco, which allows me to use the challenges that I have personally faced to help educate and host workshops for those in the program. Success Centers is one of the only places you can expect 100% transparency and tangible solutions that local equity applicants can use to create and grow their businesses. My brother and I also facilitate a fully sponsored trip to MD Farms for those in the Success Center program wanting to learn about cultivation.
What is your vision for MD Numbers going forward?
We understand the importance of controlling the source of production and the value that has, short and long term, in this industry. We want to expand into more cultivation opportunities, including greenhouse and indoor.
What would an ideal post prohibition society look like to you?
A society where cannabis is not stigmatized but celebrated and valued — that is not controlled by corporate America’s methodology and anti-stoner large corporations that care more about profits than quality products and the people they serve. It would look like a stop on the War on Drugs, which we all know was a form of modern day slavery and, as a result, a stop in the high rate of incarcerated minorities, which also goes hand in hand with fair participation…where minorities can benefit from the marketplace that has oppressed them the most.
Tell us about some of the challenges you face.
Taxation and over regulation is the main challenge. In 2017, the market was healthy and highly profitable. In 2018, the necessity to raise capital became one of the few differentiating factors of survival. Since then, businesses that cannot consistently close all their series of funding or secure permits face the most challenges and often go out of business. It’s very difficult to be profitable without selling some of your own in-house products and controlling a piece of the supply chain. Daily, these are the issues many face— digging into the market, navigating the regulations and helping craft a path to profitability where possible. The second issue is access to capital for those who do not come from finance or have access to a wealthy network. I’ve dealt with this personally, and I see this everyday in cities all over California. There is an extreme lack of access to funding for those who come from my background.
What are some solutions you've found?
Understanding all the complexities of the marketplace is the main solution. Educating myself on every nuance of this industry, so that I can produce reliable proformas and solutions, is key. This enables me to help build brands with real data and create sustainable companies. This also lets me seek investment opportunities from a much wider range of individuals because I have the financials, business plans and experience to advocate for myself and my companies.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
I prefer to smoke blunts, Sweet Aromatic Backwoods to be specific. I like the process of rolling a nice Backwoods, which requires a bit of artistry. The process helps to clear my mind, and I feel closer to the plant.
Do you think cannabis legalization will change the world for the better? Why?
Yes. Laws were originally created to keep social order. “Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself,” states the Judicial Learning Center. The key is, laws dictate stigma. It’s not for the government to manipulate the masses into using certain drugs they profit from the most... that are highly addictive. Nor is it the government's job to tell us what we can and cannot ingest as long as we are not harming ourselves or others. We know alcohol is lethal, but we are fully granted the right to consume as much as we please if we are above 21. We need to take back our right to medicate as we please, where we respect the science more than the stigma. This is true for a lot of issues in society today.
What advice would you offer to another woman who is looking to enter the industry?
This industry, like most, is male dominated at the top, so don't be surprised. Time and time again studies have proven the female voice must be heard and is, oftentimes, correct in business. Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.