In honor of MLK Jr. day, we spoke to three African American women who are trailblazers in the Michigan cannabis community, to talk about the fascinating paths that brought them to their current careers and their thoughts on entering the cannabis industry. Check back later today for part two, a profile of Christina and Teesha Montague, the esteemed mother-daughter duo from Ann Arbor who own and run Huron View Provisioning Center.
Anqunette Sarfoh: From TV to High Tea
Anqunette Sarfoh is better known by a large part of Detroit as “Q” – her nickname during her time as Fox 2 Detroit anchor for the morning show. But after a major life change, she is now an activist and cannabis entrepreneur, co-founder of the soon-to-be sold dispensary BotaniQ in Corktown, and about to launch an edibles line.
Anqunette had spent 20 years in her dream job as a TV reporter, 8 of those in Detroit, when she was forced to retire due to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis that left her with failing health and memory issues.
When she began her treatment for MS, medical marijuana was never discussed. She was prescribed 9 medications, and was constantly ill. After repeated hospitalizations for a spastic stomach, she finally tried cannabis and was floored by the results. It improved her nausea and helped the lethargy that had her taking large doses of Adderall daily.
“I don’t take those other nine medications anymore,” she says. “I only take cannabis.”
Trading TV for Cannabis Activism
Once she retired, cannabis seemed a prime choice for a new direction. “My neuropsychiatrist said you’re going to have to find something to be passionate about when you retire, because if not, you’re going to be miserable. So I said, well, I do think it’s total BS that I can come home from my TV job and smoke a joint and go on about my day, and people are being locked up for this, so I think I’ll publicly join legalization.”
She joined Michigan Legalize and worked to educate and change public opinion about cannabis, work that she’s still doing, even now that legalization has occurred. “I’m speaking at Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce in two weeks,” Anqunette says, “and it’s about stigma and about how we’re just people who have conditions and we just want to be able to have the the right to be in our workplaces.”
In her own career as a TV journalist, Anqunette was required to stay abstinent due to regular drug testing. When she chose to go public with her entrance into the cannabis community, she felt some trepidation.
“When I announced my retirement, I did at the same time say that I was going to join MI Legalize,” she explains. “I was afraid, sure. People are vicious…. So I braced myself and prepared myself to hear a bunch of jokes and to have people say, ‘Oh I knew she was high and crazy.’ But actually I was surprised at the compassion that people displayed, and for the most part it was well-received.”
The Queen of High Tea
Her appreciation for the support she received led to a new venture in the cannabis industry, with the invention of Curiositea, an event that happens at the Copper House in Detroit on the third Thursday of every month.
“I did a tea party,” Anqunette says. “It started off as sort of a thank you and an appreciation to some of the people who supported me in the whole transition from what I was doing to what I’m doing now – people who were brave enough to step out and say, ‘Yeah, we support someone who publicly uses and endorses cannabis.’
She invited 20 people, and 58 RSVP’d. “I brought in Cathleen Graham, who is a cannabis nurse, and for two or three hours we dabbed, we smoked, and we talked about how you can use cannabis to treat your ailments. And since we had such a great turnout and such great interest, we thought let’s go ahead and do something smaller and a little less formal on a monthly basis.”
Targeted specifically toward women, the tea parties allow for a safe space for women to learn about how they can integrate medical marijuana into their lives. February’s event is about Cannabis and Sex, while March will honor MS Awareness month with a focus on MS and autoimmune conditions.
Anqunette is also hard at work on developing a long-desired edibles line, that should launch within the next couple of months. Her life is very different from the one she had originally imagined she would have, but it is an outcome she is content with.
“I had a guy tell me he was at Plum market and he overheard two women saying, “Well if Q from the news is now doing weed, I guess it’s not so bad.” She laughs. “If that’s my legacy, then ok. Not so bad.”