Teesha Montague and her mother, Christina Montague, are working together at their cannabis location in Ann Arbor.
Photo provided by DHutson, LLC
They’re carving out a green path of their own — trailblazing Black women in the local cannabis industry doing the thing every single day.
Women who don’t look like the majority — white men — who have dominated this field disproportionately for years. But don’t worry — they’re getting caught up and making a lane all of their own.
Women like Tatiana Grant, 36, of Farmington Hills. This serial entrepreneur, investor, marketer, philanthropist and mother plays no games when it comes to her Detroit company, Cultivate MI Solutions, which holds a license for recreational cannabis events.
Grant founded Cultivate MI Solutions after strong recommendations of mentors and colleagues in the cannabis industry, she told The Michigan Chronicle. The company provides services to licensees and service providers for everything from marketing to connecting client needs with prospective strategic partners and logistics support.
Grant, a name well- known in the local cannabis community, said that she opened up Cultivate in 2019 inspired by her mentor.
“I’ve owned a few different businesses back in 2018,” she said, including a food delivery service. I was able to acquire a liquor license to do liquor delivery and I was talking to one of my mentors and she said if you’ve figured out how to deliver food and liquor you need to figure out how to deliver weed.”
Grant, not one to pass on a smart business move, was eight months pregnant at the time and, while she liked the idea put it on the shelf for a moment.
“I pondered on it a little more and entered the cannabis space to do delivery and as I started doing more and more research, I thought not to do delivery but [have a] marketing events and licensed agency,” she said.
Grant said that Black women in this space are a “double minority” but like the resilient people they are, they keep pushing and thriving.
“There’s definitely not a lot of women, to begin with; not a lot of women owners and even … less Black women who are owners,” she said adding that there is a sisterhood. “If you are an owner or in a position at a company, I would say all of us really have kind of had camaraderie in trying to lift each other up.”
Detroit resident Enid Parham, like her fellow cannabis peers, is #BlackGirlMagic personified. She owns a cannabis-based food catering company, LuckyPistil, which she debuted publicly in 2019. She started it a few years earlier but due to prior Michigan laws, she stayed underground. Now that she’s out in the open, she told The Michigan Chronicle that she encourages more women of color to get in the business and “build with those around you,” especially if they are in Detroit.
“The city has done a good service to ensure the people get a fair share of this booming business. The cannabis industry is expected to grow to $45 billion by 2025,” she said, adding that she’s seen a downside, too. “The only thing I despise about it, [is that] growing up I watched a lot of people I know get locked up and families destroyed for selling cannabis, and somehow through all of this, there are still over 40,000 people incarcerated for cannabis crimes and a lot more with records that are hard to get expunged. That is a slap in the face to these people. How can you morally and ethically open this market up without addressing the people you persecuted for it first?”
Parham said that as a Black woman in any field one has to have a lot of perseverance.
“because the cards are already stacked against you, most industries to this day are still dominated by men as far as corporate goes. The traumas that are put on you in your corporate working life of trying to be in leadership as a Black woman sometimes carry over into your dreams of succeeding to be an independent business owner, but you must be strong and believe.”
Mother and daughter team, Christina and Teesha Montague, have their feet firmly planted in Ann Arbor. Christina Montague was a social worker for the Ann Arbor Public Schools before serving as Washtenaw County Commissioner for over a decade, while Teesha Montague coordinated events for the city’s annual African American Downtown Festival.
Now the duo is in the cannabis industry, and her mother owns Huron View Provisioning Center in southeast Ann Arbor, which opened in 2017, making Christina Montague the only Black woman to currently own a dispensary in Michigan.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Teesha Montague said of the regulations, taxes and red tape that comes with this business. Yet, she’s optimistic for the future. “So much has changed since we’ve entered the market. Things are evolving every day… we want to stay at the forefront of things.”
Teesha Montague suffers from scoliosis, according to https://pggroupmi.com/, went 25 years without pain pills because of cannabis, while her mother learned of the benefits through the use of CBD oils. Presently, she no longer takes any medications other than cannabis.
“In Michigan, we’re still leaving out the majority of Brown and Black people,” Christina Montague said in the post. “They’re trying to do some things, but it has gotten much better in Michigan because you have a governor who is aware and who is very supportive. She wants fairness and equity in this business and it’s definitely not that way right now.”
Entrepreneur Vetra Stephens, a “cannapreneur” continues to bring the healing powers of natural medicine, including marijuana, to all who venture into her store in River Rouge.
As the CEO and co-founder of 1st Quality Medz, Stephens takes pride in being the first recreational marijuana dispensary in Wayne County. And she continues to break barriers by diminishing historical stigmas and celebrating wins, especially with the launch of her product line called The V-Affect line of CBD and THC products.
“I’m pretty excited about doing that; we’ve gotten a lot of recognition,” she said, adding that her trials and tribulations were well worth it. “When you are developing something from scratch it is going to be difficult.”
She added that she suffered from pain and insomnia like so many other people, and if she can sell a product that would help them with those ailments, why not? If she could also help a fellow Black woman navigate this industry, she is all for that, too.
“I’m going to offer as much support as I can and if they want to find financial freedom in their own lives by joining this industry, I want to be helpful in that way as well,” she said.