The cannabis industry isn’t always inclusive, but this Black woman is working to change that one dispensary at a time.
Founder Ariane Kirkpatrick built Harvest of Ohio to help improve the lives of others through the use of cannabis. After a conversation with one of her sons who used the plant to cope with anxiety, she knew that they could help others reap the benefits of a resource that has been equipped with a negative connotation within the Black community for decades.
“I didn’t think that they would allow someone like me to be in this business, and they didn’t,” said Kirkpatrick during an exclusive interview with AfroTech.
Eventually, Kirkpatrick was able to kick down the door. Now, she is the only Black woman in the state of Ohio to be vertically integrated within the industry. What this means is that she holds all three licenses to grow, dispense and sell cannabis. She holds a cultivation license, a dispensary license, and a processing license.
Taking Up Space
“I knew it was going to be a challenge for me because I knew people would try to test me,” she said. So, I wasn’t shocked with some of the behavior I faced, and continue to face, amongst others in cannabis.”
She continued:“I was shocked at how fast it happened and how intense it was. I’m scared and terrified for my life at times with the calls that I receive from different people.”
Kirkpatrick experienced everything from being called the n-word to being interrogated by the state. And, it’s safe to say they didn’t succeed when they tried so desperately to knock her down and count her out.
She says it’s things like that and having to travel back and forth to sit in court and defend herself that makes her success in cannabis bittersweet.
“I guess it’s funny because I’m proud to be where I am, but at the same time I’m sad,” she expressed.
These sentiments are why Kirkpatrick chose Harvest to be her multi-state operator (MSO). After being approached by four companies to work together as partners, she decided to go with the more collaborative and philanthropic-driven company.
Keeping It In The Family
Not only is Harvest of Ohio Black-owned, but Kirkpatrick was adamant about keeping things in the family!
Kirkpatrick’s sister is the Chief Executive Officer of the company, her youngest son is the Chief Financial Officer, and her oldest son is the Chief Technology Officer. Her stepdaughter operates as the Director of Licensing and her son’s girlfriend is the Director of Marketing.
Even those who have been adopted into the family hold a position within the company. One of Kirkpatrick’s mother’s students is the Director of HR and a long-time friend serves as the Chief of Housing.
Kirkpatrick is no stranger to taking up space and fighting for what she believes in, which is why Harvest of Ohio is much bigger than her.
“While my journey has been hard, it’s been a journey that I’ve just had to make happen and it almost seems normal to me,” she explained. “I’ve been fighting all of my life, and it’s what my mother taught my sister and me to do.”
She continued: “At an early age, we were picketing in support of Black businesses. We were boycotting McDonald’s because they didn’t have a Black franchise. So, I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do.”
For her, it’s important for other Black people to see what she’s doing, and know that they too can achieve anything that they put their minds to.
“I think it’s important that people see us in the cannabis industry because if they continue to see people on the streets selling drugs — that’s who they’ll aspire to be,” said Kirkpatrick.
“People need to see the success for Black women and just successful Black folks period so that they can emulate it and continue to grow more generations filled with success.”
Harvest now has three locations in Athens, Beavercreek, and Columbus, OH.
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