Amherstburg woman struggling to take her cannabis business to higher levels

Alicia Jimmerfield, owner of The Squishy Hippie in Amherstburg, says she's unable to expand her business because grant providers in Windsor-Essex won't associate with cannabis-based businesses.

Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation says it 'does not make comments on the cannabis industry'

Alicia Jimmerfield, owner of The Squishy Hippie, says she's unable to expand her business because grant providers in Windsor-Essex won't associate with cannabis-based businesses. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Most cannabis concentrates tend to contain butane, propane or alcohol — but Alicia Jimmerfield's method doesn't use any of that.

Instead, she uses a machine press to extract liquid — or rosin — through immense pressure and heat. The result is a cannabis concentrate that is extremely pure and doesn't contain any harmful residue.

Jimmerfield's goal is to expand her operation beyond the walls of her home, but she says that's next to impossible because grant providers in Windsor-Essex won't make funding available for cannabis-based businesses.

The 32-year-old launched The Squishy Hippie in Amherstburg last year, following the legalization of recreational marijuana use. When customers bring her cannabis, she turns it into a liquid that can be used in edibles and lotions.

"I started this business because my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer," said Jimmerfield. "Cannabis really helped her to have a better quality of life while she was battling cancer. It didn't save her, but it helped her a lot."

A before-and-after of what cannabis looks like during the press process. The final product is a syrup-like substance. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Jimmerfield purchased the rosin press, which costs about $2,600, using her inheritance.

She said she needs additional funds to purchase a second press that she can take outside her home, but she was deemed ineligible for a grant from the Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre.

"I just think it's odd. Their purpose is to help small businesses succeed, and they can't or won't look at what is currently the biggest opportunity in business," Jimmerfield said in a Facebook message.

WEEDC not commenting

CBC News reached out to the Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre to find out why cannabis-based businesses in the region can't receive support.

In an email statement, the organization said it "does not make comments on the cannabis industry."

In a follow-up email, CBC News informed the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) — which falls under the same umbrella as the Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre — that a March 27 story by CBC Windsor titled "How cannabis is creating new careers in Windsor-Essex" appeared on its website.

WEEDC featured this CBC story on its website until November 6. On that date, CBC News responded to WEEDC's no-comment stance, noting the presence of this story on its website. WEEDC immediately responded by taking the story down. (WEEDC)

CBC News also informed WEEDC that a representative from its organization had been quoted in a past story about cannabis greenhouse technology.

Upon receiving CBC's messages, WEEDC immediately removed the cannabis careers stories from its website.

"As for previous stories, they are in the past; our current no-comment policy stands," said WEEDC in an email to CBC News.

Chatham-Kent taking a chance on cannabis business

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has taken a different approach, however.

"My job is not to judge. We look at any and all business plans accordingly. As long as it is legal, then we are more than happy to support and provide guidance as we can," said Stuart McFadden, the municipality's director of economic development services.

McFadden added the municipality has provided a grant to one business that sells cannabis accessories.


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