CAN: Indigenous entrepreneurs and people of color struggle for traction in cannabis industry

Ashley and Michael Athill, the brother and sister team behind a new Black-owned craft cannabis cultivator called HRVSTR, have had their growing facility in place since May of last year. But up until now, they haven't been able to grow or sell any product.

Located in Ontario's Durham region, the pair finally received their licence last week and are one final municipal inspection away from getting started. The high start-up cost is what they point to as the foremost reason why they haven't met a single other Black-owned cannabis cultivator in Canada.

"It's a difficult thing for anybody to achieve coming from my background," Michael said. While the Athills were able to self-fund HRVSTR with their own savings and assets, they acknowledged that income inequality along racial lines makes it more difficult for other Black entrepreneurs to do the same.

"We essentially have to build the facility before we even submit an application. So that's not even just rent, but that's also utilities and it's all the equipment that we need to purchase," Michael added.


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