"A lot of these assumptions are made when it comes to minorities," Akeem Gardner says. The legal hemp farmer says he never had a problem with the bank when he went in dressed in business attire. That changed when he tried to transfer money to a vendor a few weeks ago while wearing a hoodie.
Gardner's company is called Atlas 365, and is fully licensed by Health Canada to grow industrial hemp. Unlike cannabis, hemp does not contain any psychoactive chemicals, and is used to make foods, natural medicine, and sustainable textiles and construction materials.
Gardner stated that he had sent and received funds through the business account on numerous occasions since opening it in November of 2018. But when we went to his Brampton branch earlier this month to make a $35,000 transfer to purchase industrial supplies, Gardner was told that the manager would have to approve it.
Instead of approving the transaction, TD Bank froze his account and credit card. Gardner, who was dressed casually after working for hours in the hemp fields, says that he was incorrectly flagged as someone who was involved with illicit business. According to Gardner, one of the bank employees checked out his company website and assumed he was running a dispensary and not a farm.
Gardner says that he had provided both his Ontario business license and Health Canada production license to the bank previously. TD Canada Trust states that it's investigating the situation.