Article by Mark Rendell, FInancial Post
While the federal government is legalizing marijuana to regulate and tax the psychoactive drug, Prairie farmers growing non-smokable hemp appear set to become major beneficiaries of the new regime.
The updated industrial hemp regulations, released this week alongside Health Canada’s recreational cannabis rules, will allow hemp growers to harvest the flowers and leaves from their crop for non-psychoactive compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD).
“Whole plant” harvest could generate up to $10 billion in economic activity over the next 10 years, the government estimates, as the market for CBD — seen as a potential input for medical products, supplements and beauty products — continues to grow.
“They, as a government, are being smart to us as entrepreneurs, because if they waited one or two more years the American market would have blown us up,” said Chris Dzisiak, a hemp farmer and the president of the
Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Co-Op in Dauphin, Man.
In 1998, Canada legalized the cultivation of hemp, a form cannabis plant with negligible levels of high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and other cannabinoids that occur in hemp, however, remained controlled substances, meaning farmers could only harvest the plant’s grain, which is used in food, and fibres, used primarily in textiles.
Hemp flowers and leaves containing cannabinoids had to be left decomposing in the field.