Economy

Abbotsford Hemp Farmers Face Growing Pains Following Legalization

Abbotsford Hemp Farmers Face Growing Pains Following Legalization
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A family in Abbotsford, who were among the first in British Columbia to grow hemp for CBD oil, has been dealing with a host of issues since setting up shop in the fall.

Among them was an early hit from misguided thieves. Likely mistaking the hemp plants for marijuana, a group of thieves who made off with part of the Warmerdams' harvest were probably left disappointed when they discovered their loot's low THC content.

Hemp plants are high in cannabidiol (CBD), like marijuana, but contain only trace amounts of the psychoactive element THC. Since both marijuana cultivation and growing hemp for CBD became legal across Canada on October 17th, Nick Warmerdam has witnessed laypeople's lack of education first-hand.

Passersby often express shock upon seeing his family's cannabis farm, assuming they're growing marijuana. "People don't really understand it," he said. "I'm not sure theft is a problem that's going to go away any time soon."

But thieves are only one of the problems he and other hemp farmers have faced since legalization. Under the new law, growers can harvest hemp but are not allowed to extract the CBD oil. They must sell it to a licensed processor or producer.

However, once Warmerdam secured a buyer, he found that his hemp couldn't be used because of its pesticide residue. The residue didn't come from any spraying the Warmerdam family did, but was sitting in the farm's soil already.

Despite being 100 times less than the amount allowed in Canadian vegetables, the Warmerdams' hemp now sits in storage, awaiting a rule change from the government. "The red tape is making it difficult," the farmer said. "It's putting legal producers at a disadvantage."