Throughout Michigan’s cannabis community, where mom-and-pop shops and entrepreneurial hustles are on the rise, it’s common to find couples, business partners, and families working together on their newfound opportunities. These so-called “cannabis power couples” also act as culture ambassadors, spreading the word about cannabis and bringing together local communities. Here is a look at three partnerships
906 Canna Couple
In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (or the U.P. as the locals call it), Drew Griepentrog and Ally Farley, creators of 906 Canna Couple, create private cannabis networking events that help consumers connect.
“Making sure other people feel like they’re a part of something has always been a big goal for what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Ally. “Being in the U.P., it can be hard to feel included in the industry unless you can travel frequently to the Mitten [the U.P.’s prominent thumb shape.]. We want to bring the benefits of big city cannabis networking to our small U.P. towns.”.
Launching their project in January 2021, the couple developed an Instagram account to attract others looking to connect in the U.P. After releasing their first private cannabis event in June of the same year, they quickly realized a strong desire in the cannabis community to get together in a fun, open environment.
“It started as a way to share all our adventures, but after that first event, we realized what this had the potential to be,” says Drew. “In a little over a year, we hit 3,000 Instagram followers.” Drawing on Drew’s extensive history in the caregiver market as both patient and grower and Ally’s marketing and event planning experience, the couple focuses on promoting products that help consumers while spreading the word with guerilla marketing strategies. “When we met, we were helping open the doors of a multi-operational retail establishment,” says Ally. “Meeting Drew was like finally developing a relationship with someone who constantly pushed me to improve daily, with no exceptions. The more we thrive, the more the brands we promote thrive, and that’s a special relationship where everyone wins.” Since opening their property to cannabis enthusiasts, 906 Canna Couple has developed relationships with brands, consumers, and businesses from Detroit to Milwaukee to Marquette with annual events like Class & Grass, Bud-Oir Sessions, and Puff N Paints. Drew and Ally venture out to other like minded events when they’re not hosting their own. “While we love throwing our own events, we’re just small potatoes,” says Drew. “We love having the chance to go out to some of these huge festivals and smaller cannabis get-togethers to see and support our friends from the industry focused on connecting people like us.”
The Fire Station Cannabis Company is Upper Michigan’s fastest-growing cannabis retail brand. Across three of their nine locations, they’ve recruited members of the Bojorquez Family a father mother daughter trio to take on different roles within their company.
Originally a customer at the Negaunee location, the father, James, applied for an entry-level position, working his way from budtender to general manager at the newly opened Munising dispensary. Following his footsteps, daughter Lexi (Trombley) became a receptionist and delivery dispatcher at the flagship Negaunee location. Mother Patti joined the team as a budtender in Marquette and was soon promoted to a lead position at the Negaunee shop. With a shared sense of ambition and drive, the three rapidly forged a path and solidified their family name within Upper Michigan cannabis retail.
”We are always networking and creating relationships with people at all events we attend,” says James, who goes by the nickname Bojo. “Those relationships help us grow not only our cannabis knowledge but also our relationships within our family. Every day, we come together to reflect and think of ways to better the industry from the retail aspect and the community, which go hand in hand.”
James, a California native, met Patti while working together at Red Lobster. Shortly after being sucked in by her “Yooper Accent,” the two paired up and moved back to Patti’s home state of Michigan. “We have worked together for so long as a couple and professionally that when we are together, we are capable of anything,” says James. “I get to go to work and smell the flowers and then go home and talk to my wife about what flowers she smelled, literally and figuratively.”
Couples, especially those in the cannabis industry with children who work alongside them, are also faced with the hurdle of destigmatizing the negativity behind cannabis. The Bojorquez family does this by informing and educating people that times are changing. “We strive to show people that you can work in the cannabis industry and still be a respectable and successful human being,” says James. “We are proof. Never did we think cannabis would have gotten us here.”
Cara and Jess Jackson
Below the mighty Mackinac Bridge, Jess and Cara Jackson have opened Detroit’s first bud and breakfast listing, Copper House, a consumption-friendly, intimate venue with cozy overnight accommodations. “We were the first to offer short-term accommodations specifically for cannabis consumers,” says Jess. “So, we have a sort of first-tomarket advantage from a brand perspective.” Since the pair have been operating Copper House since 2019, they’ve been able to prototype with literally anything in cannabis hospitality, including hosting special events and intimate gatherings. “We serve as a hub of connection and creation,” says Cara.
Meeting online in 2011 on an LGBTQ+ social media site, Jess and Cara went on their first date in November that year and have been inseparable ever since. After returning from a trip to Amsterdam, where Cara first consumed cannabis, they used the city’s culture to inspire their plans in cannabis and hospitality.
“Our love story completely inspires our space,” says Jess. “Ideally, we’d love multiple properties that allow consumption, but we want to end up on an actual dude ranch-type B&B where we can host large weddings and wellness retreats.” Working full-time in Michigan’s cannabis industry, Cara, with a degree in wildlife ecology and conservation, began her career with the National Forest Service and a love for cultivation, eventually obtaining the role of operations manager at SOZO, the state’s third-largest cultivation facility.
Social equity champion Jess works with Common Citizen, overseeing their active corporate social responsibility program. She also is on the board of directors for the Redemption Foundation and Great Lakes Expungement Network. Jess is also a speaker and consultant on holistic wellness and diversity and recently released her first book, “Sis, You’re Copper: An Alchemy to Shine”. Starting with just an idea and a shared love for cannabis, Jess and Cara continue to push for the normalization of the plant and upping expectations for cannabis events. “We started with what we had our home and have been able to make every connection we’ve needed from the comfort of our living room,” says Jess.