As Canada's hemp industry sees considerable expansion in the form of legislative changes and the construction of more processing facilities, it's gearing up for an eventful New Year.
Easily the most impactful recent change came with the passing of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. This past Thursday, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law.
Hemp, a species of cannabis that isn't psychoactive, found its biggest legalization proponents in the tobacco industry, whose key players view it as a lucrative alternative crop to harvest.
Russ Crawford, the president of Canada's Hemp Trade Alliance, believes the Farm Bill will bring a legitimacy to hemp use worldwide. "Canadians will benefit by virtue of there being a bigger pie and we will continue to compete," he said. "I'm sure we can with our 20 years of experience."
Though Crawford will be seeing greater competition among hemp producers, he's looking forward to the spike in demand from consumers. Hempco Canada is set to open a large facility in Alberta, while other companies are also planning on expanding both their food processing and cannabinoid extraction facilities across the nation.
With these changes, Crawford isn't yet sure how farmer contracts and harvesting and processing conditions will pan out, but is excited for the diversity it will bring the hemp industry. Along with U.S. legalization, another major development in Canada's hemp industry is set to begin in 2019, when the Farm Products Council of Canada will take a levy structure for producers under consideration.
But much more research will be needed to develop additional extraction processes - an undertaking that will require collaboration on the parts of both hemp producers and university researchers. Along with processing hemp for human use and consumption, Crawford would like to see it used for livestock food.
In addition to food, hemp is used for a wide variety of medical and personal care products, clothing, and building materials.