What is Industrial Hemp?
In the Industrial Hemp Regulations, industrial hemp includes Cannabis plants and plant parts, of any variety, that contains 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less in the leaves and flowering heads.
Industrial hemp also includes the derivatives of industrial hemp plants and plant parts. These do not include the flowering parts or the leaves.
Examples of derivatives that are considered industrial hemp include: hemp seed oil (oil derived from seed or grain) and hemp flour.
Industrial hemp does not include:
- Non-viable Cannabis seeds, except for their derivatives. While the derivatives of non-viable Cannabis seeds are considered to be industrial hemp, the non-viable seeds themselves are not industrial hemp;
- Mature Cannabis stalks, when those stalks are stripped of their leaves, flowers, seeds, and branches;
- Fiber derived from such mature Cannabis stalks.
Most activities with non-viable cannabis seeds, with bare mature cannabis stalks (without leaves, flowers, seeds, and branches), and with fiber derived from bare mature cannabis stalks, are not controlled under the CDSA. As such, they do not require authorization.
Industrial Hemp and Marijuana are two different strains of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. Industrial Hemp seeds have low, government-regulated levels of delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive agent found in Cannabis plants.
After a 60-year ban, commercial cultivation of Industrial Hemp became legal in Canada in 1998. Since then, the Industrial Hemp industry in Canada has grown steadily. More and more farmers are cultivating and processing the plant, business people are investing, and politicians are supporting research to further the industry.
Industrial Hemp is an extremely renewable resource with unlimited potential. It can be grown for food or non-food purposes with little to no reliance on toxic chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
Every part of the plant can be put to good use: stalks, seeds, flowers, and oils all have applications. Hemp fibre is commonly used for clothing, rope, insulation and paper products. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, or made into hemp milk. Hemp seed oil is found in cosmetics, lighting, paints, varnishes, medicinal preparations, and biofuel.
Industrial hemp is marketed a fiber, as a seed, or as a dual-purpose crop. Although detailed market information for hemp ins not readily available, estimates from Vote Hemp show that the total retail value of hemp products in the U.S. in 2016 was $688 million. This includes food and body products, clothing, auto parts, building materials, and other products.
Cultivated industrial hemp plants usually consist of a spindly main stalk covered with leaves. Considered a low-maintenance crop, hemp plants typically reach between 6 to 15 feet in height. Depending on the purpose, variety and climatic conditions, the period between planting and harvesting ranges from 70 to 140 days. One acre of hemp can yield an average of 700 pounds of grain, which in turn can be pressed into about 22 gallons of oil and 530 pounds of meal. The same acre will also produce an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into approximately 1,300 pounds of fiber.
Industrial hemp may be an excellent rotation crop for traditional crops, because it suppresses weeds and decreases outbreaks of insect and disease problems. Hemp may also rebuild and condition soils by replacing organic matter and providing aeration through its extensive root system.