Growing Industrial Hemp in Canada

Image from Industrial Hemp Speciality Crops Fact Sheet, produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the Province of British Columbia (1999)
"Hemp production was prohibited in Canada in 1938 under the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act as part of a combined international battle against the abuse of THC and other controlled substances. Although the prohibition was relaxed briefly during World War II when traditional sources of fibres were unavailable, the prohibition was renewed after the war. Since 1961, Health Canada has allowed limited production in Canada for scientific research purposes...

...In the 1980s and 1990s, there was increased interest in the cultivation of industrial hemp as a potential source of new jobs in the agricultural and industrial sectors. As well, there was an increased need to develop alternative sources of fibre. Research conducted between 1994 and 1998 showed it could be successfully grown in Canada as a separate entity from cannabis (marijuana). With the demand and encouraging research findings, Health Canada chose to give the agricultural and industrial sectors the opportunity to grow and exploit industrial hemp in a controlled fashion. Laws were amended to allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp."
- retrieved January 4, 2013 from Frequently Asked Questions about Industrial Hemp on Health Canada Online

"On March 10, 1996, the Food Production and Inspection Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada issued the following statement in a directive numbered D-96-03. “Health Canada now recognizes the difference between these two types of Hemp but regulates who can produce a crop for fibre.” They were discussing the plant Cannabis sativa which most will recognize as marijuana. Hemp is in fact the same plant (genus & species) but has taken a different path of development over the years. This divergence has led to the relaxation of rules to where licences to grow industrial hemp in controlled test plots were granted in 1996; the first in B.C. was issued in June 1997."
- Industrial Hemp Speciality Crops Fact Sheet, produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the Province of British Columbia (1999)

"Current Licensing Information

  1. License Forms: You will need to fill out an Industrial Hemp License Application. These forms are available through Health Canada’s web site.
  2. A Criminal record employment check must be done at the local RCMP and included with your license application package.
  3. GPS coordinates for each hemp field: You will need GPS coordinates for your field to complete your application.

Once you have your criminal record check, your GPS, and have filled out the forms, (snail) mail the whole package to Health Canada’s Hemp Office. They need the original documents."
- retrieved from Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance on January 4, 2013

"Licences are issued on a calendar year basis and expire on the December 31st immediately following the issuance of the licence or authorization, unless otherwise specified. Permits are valid for three months. Licence holders must reapply each year providing information that is current at the time of the application. The Office of Controlled Substances will accept applications as early as mid-November for licensing in the following year to ensure persons requiring a licence or authorization for carry-over material have an opportunity to obtain the necessary documents...

...Only seeds of approved industrial hemp varieties, which have a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level lower than 0.3% in their leaves and flowering heads, can be planted. Please click here for a List of Approved Cultivars."
-retrieved January 4, 2013 from Frequently Asked Questions about Industrial Hemp on Health Canada Online

"Because hemp is classified taxonomically as Cannabis sativa, Canada’s hemp production is regulated by Health Canada. Producers and manufacturers who want to work with hemp must obtain licenses from Health Canada in Ottawa.

In order to grow hemp or manufacturer hemp products you must have a license. Health Canada license forms and information are located [online].

Producers are only allowed to plant certified seed – there is no “common” seed. All hemp planted must be an approved variety, all of which have less than 0.3% THC in them in field. (Contact Health Canada for annual seed list)

It is a requirement of Industrial Hemp Regulations that all commercial hemp crops be planted using only Certified Seed."
-retrieved on January 4, 2013 from the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

Economic Potential
"[H]emp’s lingering stigma — especially south of the border — courtesy of its illegal and potent cousin, may benefit Canada’s small but fast-growing hemp industry.

Hemp cultivation is not federally approved in the United States, but Canadian-grown hemp products are allowed across the border. The United States is Canada’s main market for hemp products.

“It’s an excellent situation for us to really establish well this industry before it becomes legalized in the U.S.,” said Kim Shukla, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance...

In Canada, hemp is gaining credibility as a crop whose fibres can be used to make textiles, paper, clothes, auto parts and other composite manufacturing materials. Its seeds, full of Omega 3 and 6, are used to make health foods like hemp milk, breakfast cereal and salad topping. Hemp oil is used in food processing, as salad oil and a skin treatment.

“We’re a legitimate crop that has great economic return to the Canadian farmer and everyone’s starting to pay attention,” Shukla said.

The federal government announced Monday a total of $95,000 in funding to boost Canada’s hemp industry. The money will help test and evaluate the best hemp varieties to grow by region and also promote Canadian hemp in international markets.

“Investments like these will help Canadian farmers tap into growing demand for hemp, diversify their businesses and capture new revenue sources,” said Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins.

The funding recognizes the industry’s growth potential, Shukla said.

There were 55,000 acres licensed for hemp cultivation in Canada in 2012 and about 200 growers across the country. Hemp production is forecast to nearly double by 2015 to 100,000 acres. That will add about $100 million to the Canadian economy. Saskatchewan is the nation’s leading hemp producer, followed by Alberta and Manitoba...

John Wolodko, manager of the advanced materials portfolio at Alberta Innovates — Technology Futures, is researching how to use hemp fibres in manufacturing.

“Industrial hemp seems to have the attributes that make it very competitive with cotton and it presents an alternative fibre for our existing industry to try.”

But before such products can go from the lab to the marketplace, an adequate hemp supply chain of manufacturers, processors and farmers must be developed, he said."
- Canada’s hemp industry is a growing concern by Bill Mah, as printed in the Edmonton Journal on November 5, 2012.

Further Reading:

  • Industrial Hemp Speciality Crops Fact Sheet, produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the Province of British Columbia (1999)
  • Industrial Hemp Regulations aka "The Legal Jargon"

  • Hemp, Products, Oil, Fuel, Protein, Hurds, Bast Fibre,