On today’s episode we hear from Connie Maxim-Sparrow, founder of Sparrow Consulting, a cannabis and boutique consulting firm. Connie’s first legal cannabis purchase was pretty unconventional—read: in the middle of a DEA raid at a cannabis business expo in Detroit, Michigan—yet her recent experiences buying legal weed have been less like a scene out of a movie and more of what you’d expect. Listen in for a roller-coaster of an episode!
Did you know that 3 out of 4 women in the U.S. have access to legal cannabis? This series is dedicated to women sharing their stories and empowering you in your own experiences buying cannabis.
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over. Welcome to How To Do The Pot, a podcast demystifying cannabis for women. I’m Ellen Scanlon. One of the biggest misconceptions about shopping for legal weed is thinking that you need to know a lot about cannabis before you go. While you can’t forget your government issued ID, and it will make it easier if you bring cash, as more states legalize, visiting a dispensary is a lot like a regular shopping experience. This series is dedicated to providing you with a support system of other women who have been in your shoes.
Ellen Scanlon (00:45):
If you scroll through our podcast feed and look for first time legal weed stories, you will hear from some really inspiring women from all across the country about the first time they bought legal cannabis. These women offer a lot of helpful tips and really thoughtful observations that they’re not without a few mishaps and laughs along the way too. We hope these stories make you feel supported, less alone, and a little lighthearted when you decide to make your first cannabis shopping trip. We want you to feel confident, and most importantly, to have fun. We would love to hear your story. Send us a voice memo with your three to five minute story to email@example.com. That’s H-I at dothepot.com. Connie Maxim-Sparrow is the Michigan-based founder of Sparrow Consulting, a cannabis and boutique consulting firm.
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (01:43):
I am from Muskegon, Michigan, where I’ve lived for a good majority of my life. The first time that I bought legal cannabis is a bit of a story. In 2017, I had been working for government for a good 20 years of my professional career, and had decided that I wanted to go off independent contractor, and so I started Sparrow Consulting. I started consulting in the grant space and the planning and community development space, and then had stumbled onto the medical and caregiver system, which was legal in the state of Michigan in 2017. Well, the state of Michigan was moving from the caregiver system into a medical commercial market, and I had a couple of people reach out to me to see if I’d be interested in helping them get through their compliance and licensing, so I took those clients on.
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (02:30):
Well, it came across my mind that I probably should figure out how to buy cannabis in the state of Michigan, and decided that I should probably get my medical card, as that was the only way you could buy legal cannabis in the state. I went on Google and I started Googling and Googling how to get one of these med cards, and there wasn’t necessarily a direct line of understanding as to how to get to a doctor and get a medical card. There was kind of this alternative system that I really hadn’t heard of before. I ended up finding a cannabis business expo that ironically was also registering med card patients on site to give them their certifications. I thought, “Well, crap, that’s good. We’ll kill two birds with one stone and we’ll go to this business expo in Detroit, and then I will get my med card and buy my first legal cannabis purchase.”
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (03:21):
We headed down to Detroit, my husband and I, a couple of cannabis clients and a couple of our staff members, and we set up a lovely booth at this expo, and we quickly went to go find out how to get our medical cards. My husband and I went and got the medical cards, and we went through the paperwork process, met with the doctor. We each had qualifying conditions that met the expectations for the state to qualify for a medical card. It took a couple of hours for us to get through that process then we were issued temporary cards and then the state would send us a card. In the meantime, my staff was kind of running around this business expo which spanned three floors, and they were trying to just get a lay of the land of what was going on, and were putting things out and getting our booth set up.
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (04:12):
One of my staff members came up to me and said, “Hey, there’s a bus that’s taking everybody off site to go medicate, and so we’re going to go on that bus and go check out the other part of the conference.” Well, me being new to cannabis, I did not understand what this bus was or what was going on. I said, “Yeah, sure, great. Have fun, go meet some people and drum up some business, and we’ll see you in a couple hours.” I didn’t really think anything of it. I get my temporary marijuana card, and we are managing, working our booth, and I get a phone call about an hour and a half later from my staff, and I couldn’t really understand what they were seeing at first, because it was very loud. It was like a DJ was in the background and I’m like, “Wow, they’re at a really cool party.” I was like, huh. I had texted them and said, “I can’t hear you guys. It’s way too loud.”
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (05:01):
Well, 20 minutes later I get another phone call from my staff, and they’re pretty much telling me that they’re being raided by the DEA in this warehouse in Detroit. I panicked. I didn’t understand why the DEA would be rating a business expo. I didn’t understand why my staff was anywhere that the DEA would think that there would be a problem at a business expo. We quickly got into the car and my husband went to go get them. They were about 20 minutes away, and because this bus would take you off site to a private dispensary of caregivers, that it was a social consumption space, and this was something that was legal in the city of Detroit. Well, unfortunately, they had brought in way more cannabis than was legal and they were actually doing an open market cannabis exchange, and the DEA got tipped off by it and it ended up being one of the largest raids in Detroit history.
Connie Maxim-Sparrow (05:59):
My first legal cannabis purchase was in the middle of a DEA raid at a cannabis business expo in Detroit, Michigan. Everything turned out fine. Our staff didn’t get in trouble. But, it was definitely an eyeopening experience. I can tell you now I go and I purchase legal cannabis all the time in both medical and recreational stores in the state of Michigan, and they are wonderful. The first experience wasn’t the best experience, but I buy cannabis regularly, and the experience that I have now is very mainstream and very straightforward. I would encourage any woman to go and see what your local dispo has to offer.
Ellen Scanlon (06:41):
Thanks for listening to this episode of How To Do The Pot. If you’d like to share your story about the first time you bought legal weed, please send a voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us @dothepot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com, and that’s also where you can sign up for How To Do The Pot’s newsletter, which comes out every other Friday. If you like How To Do The Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show. Thank you to our producers Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and stay tuned for more of How To Do The Pot.