Hemp group says producers are missing out due to red tape

WINNIPEG — Government regulations are costing Canadian hemp producers a potential billion dollar market opportunity, says an industry group.

Canadian hemp farmers are permitted to use only certain parts of the plant: the stock and seeds.

Kim Shukla, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, said that means farmers are missing out in the market.

Shukla said the alliance is pushing for reform and is hopeful that a new federal government has the potential to bring change.

Hemp plants contain low levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, about .3 percent. Marijuana plants typically contain more than five percent of THC.

The parts of the plant that cannot be harvested also contain cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), which can treat schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Dr. Steve Laviolette of the University of Western Ontario.

“While we are struggling and fighting against these archaic regulations, other countries are beginning to really come on as powerhouses,” Shukla said.

There is a strong market demand for hemp, but the Canadian industry has struggled with its ability to process product and move it through the channel.

Shukla names a 2013 fire at a major hemp processor as a setback. The processor wasn’t able to work at full capacity until 2014. She said next year’s acreage will likely stay static at about 100,000 acres.

“So we can begin to manage some of our processing challenges, and as more processors come on board, and as more folks are involved in the marketplace, we’re looking forward to 2017.”

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