Farmers in Canada can now harvest an entire hemp plant, including the flowers and leaves, which they used to throw away because of federal restrictions. Health Canada has recently completed consultations on the government’s proposed framework in dealing with legal cannabis. This document includes risk-based regulations allowing growers of industrial hemp to distribute the entire hemp plant to licensed persons under the proposed Cannabis Act in Canada.
The Cannabis Act
The federal government of Canada proposed the changes in the rules and regulations on legal cannabis in November of last year. They are expecting any changes in the legal hemp law to come into force at the same time that the Cannabis Act comes into place. Under the framework, hemp licenses will now be expanded to include the industry sale of flowers, leaves, and branches, or basically the entire plant. Other changes include allowing farmers to store hemp in the same way as the other agricultural products instead of being locked in a secure location.
Hemp producers are still required to report cultivation sites and testing for pesticides, equipment cleaning, and any transaction between another license holder regarding the sale of the flowers, branches, or leaves of hemp.
Good News for the Hemp Industry
The proposed changes will be good news for the hemp industry, where the present laws and regulations have written them out of the nutraceutical industry. The cannabis plant is the main source of CBD or cannabidiol, a substance known for treating a wide range of illnesses, although the most prominent medical usage of CBD revolves around its ability to treat seizures.
However, some industry experts argue that hemp is also capable of producing CBD but without the effects of THC, which is the chemical responsible for giving a feeling of high to the users. In 2017, a report showed that hemp-derived sales in the United States had reached $170 million in 2016. Furthermore, the Hemp Business Journal expects for the hemp industry to make up a quarter of the CBD industry’s projected revenue of $2.1 billion by 2020.
What’s Holding Back?
According to some experts in the cannabis industry, we’re missing out on a huge opportunity for not using the entire parts of hemp. Companies like the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers are firmly supporting the deregulation of hemp. Yet, they also believe that growers must still be licensed. They admitted that hemp still contains a small amount of THC, the chemical that’s responsible for the psychoactive effects in cannabis.
The level of THC in hemp is extremely low. In Canada and the US, the limit set for THC in hemp is 0.3%, which is totally harmless. And if the government continues with the licensing program, hemp shouldn’t be treated as a controlled substance. Instead, it should be viewed as a type of agricultural commodity.
In Canada, the Manitoba Agriculture Minister supports looser regulations in hemp, specifically, the farmers’ ability to harvest and use the entire plant.