Sibling duo Marie Montmarquet and Allen Hackett are co-founders of MD Numbers, Inc., a 100% Black-owned family of cannabis brands that includes Marie’s Deliverables and Legacy Coterie, a consulting, distribution, and sales service. At the heart of all their work lies a belief in the boundless potential of cannabis. “It all started with educating ourselves about the power of the plant,” says Montmarquet. “Our passion for the plant is what drives us. It’s why we’re here right now.”
Growing up in Tennessee and Virginia, Montmarquet and Hackett didn’t have a lot of outlets for their natural curiosity about cannabis. According to them, the goal down south is mostly getting high without getting caught. “Cannabis culture in the south is a taboo culture,” says Hackett. “You’ve got your weed guy, and that’s it. People don’t necessarily know what they’re smoking, or the effects they’re getting from smoking. There’s not a lot of room for education.”
Montmarquet always knew she was going to leave Tennessee, and when she got to California she was struck by how easily she could access a previously clandestine substance. Excited by the prospect of working with cannabis, she started learning the ins and outs of the industry.She settled down in Redwood City. At the time the dry county was without dispensaries, which meant relying on delivery. When she grew dissatisfied with the delivery services she was using, Montmarquet decided to start her own and convinced her brother to join her.
“With Marie’s Deliverables, I centered everything around what I wasn’t seeing on the market… We’re always interactive with the customers. We’re not here to sell a certain brand, or push anything that’s not right. If you want less sugar, we’ll get you the right products; if you want certain cannabinoids, we’ll find those for you.” As Montmarquet puts it, “One size does not fit all.” Building their customers’ trust meant committing to “understanding the effects they’re looking for and listening to their feedback.” It wasn’t long before they saw the deeper impact of their work.
“The biggest aha moment for me was doing deliveries for patients,” says Hackett. “We had this one customer who was a vet. Every day he had to fight with the people at the VA, trying to get his pills. We had this 500 milligram chocolate bar that he said literally saved his life, and after that we would make sure to order products specifically for him. He didn’t care about getting high, he just cared about having a normal day without pain, without having to mess up his liver with all the pills he was being given. ”
Montmarquet was impressed by the improvement she saw in this customer, who was eventually able to wean himself off prescription pills. “We’re talking about a guy who got hit with Agent Orange,” she says. “He’d report back that he was able to walk around for hours with his wife. He hadn’t been able to do that for years.” The client was one of many who relied on Marie’s Deliverables to mitigate serious health problems. Montmarquet was also able to help treat her childhood friend’s mother through metastatic cancer, thanks to the RSO products they carried. “You’re healing people, even if the research isn’t there to prove it. Seeing is believing.”
If Marie’s Deliverables is the sommelier of MD Numbers, Inc., MD Farms is the vineyard. For Hackett in particular, cultivating their own product was a dream. He and Montmarquet found the 50,000 square foot greenhouse facility in Salinas, California just as the county was legalizing cannabis, six months before the market really took off. As Hackett says, “Our timing was key.” Growing improved their profit margins, which enabled them to compete in the Southern California market. “In the Bay area people spend a lot more money on weed,” Montmarquet observes. “In SoCal, the most anyone would pay on a full menu would be $35 an eighth. And for good quality weed, too.”
At the farm, Hackett and Montmarquet provide hands-on cultivation demonstrations and other education resources for equity candidates. Partnering with Success Centers, they’ve created workshops, a cannabis curriculum, and mentorship opportunities. “We’ve been through different parts of the War on Drugs,” says Montmarquet, and this background helps them see the mission of their company as bigger than just their own success. “We have to look at the broader picture,” says Hackett.
Through Legacy Coterie, they are able to give permits to people looking to build brands. For brands just starting up, they offer connections with distribution companies hoping to contribute to a more equitable industry. The money given to them as incentive to work with equity candidates is also put back into the community as micro grants. “We love being that resource for people. It’s only right that we give back to those who went through the same struggle we did,” says Hackett. “It adds to the whole brand, the community we’re trying to encompass. We see the path forward, and we’re just getting started.”