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Canada Ends 60-Year Ban on Commercial Hemp


March-April 1998

On March 13, Canada lifted its 60-year-old ban on commercial hemp cultivation (Dawn Walton, "Hemp to become legal crop," Ottawa Citizen, February 27, 1998; Reuters, "Canada Lifts Ban on Commercial Hemp Cultivation," March 13, 1998; John Hamilton, "Legal Hemp Expected to Create Area Jobs," London Free Press, March 16, 1998; Joel Connelly, "Canada high on possibilities of marketing hemp products," Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), February 22, 1998, p. A8).

"For the first time in 60 years, Canadian farmers who meet the required provisions can now plan to grow hemp this spring," said Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock. "This new crop has a tremendous potential for creating new jobs in agriculture, industry, research and retail," he said.

Under the regulations, hemp farmers and businesses must be licensed by Health Canada. The regulations also specify that farmers cannot grow less than four hectares and that crops will be tested for THC content, the principal psychoactive ingredient in hemp's botanical cousin, marijuana. Furthermore, the cultivation will not be allowed within one kilometer of a schoolyard or any public place frequented by minors.

Hemp advocates hope lifting the ban will enable Canada's hemp industry to become an international supplier. Hemp products range from rope and textiles to fuel. Canadian farmers with special research licenses have been producing small quantities of hemp but not for commercial purposes. The European Union and China are currently the largest producers of hemp.

"The government has thrown the challenge back to us to truly develop hemp as a viable resource in Canada," said Geof Kime, the President of Ontario's Hempline Inc., which obtained a special growing license in 1994. "We will soon be moving forward into full commercial production and exporting to the U.S. textile industry," he said. Kime said he expects to export about 80% of his company's first crop to the United States. Hempline farms 10 acres of hemp, compared to the estimated 100,000 acres cultivated in the European Union.

Canada Health Minister Allan Rock - Tel: (613) 952-7738, Fax: (613) 954-6524.