1994: Canada licenses research fiber hemp crops on an experimental basis. This first crop is planted on six acres by Hempline Inc. on land in Ontario that was previously used to grow tobacco. The crop consists of five varieties of low THC hemp from Europe approved by the federal ministry of health. In order for this pilot project to succeed, Hempline had to rely on support and information from hemp activists groups. Prominent Canadian lawyer, Allan Young, also helped them navigate through the never ending bureaucracy and legislative red tape. Of course, there are no grants or subsidies available for growing hemp in Canada. Hempline was obliged to pay its own way including police surveillance fees. Hempline sent the major portion of their initial harvest to an Oregon forest product research laboratory where it was processed into sheets of wallboard. This medium density building material was found to meet or surpass industry standards of strength and finish. Other experiments with the first hemp crop produced fist sized super compressed pellets for low smoke / high calorie fuel suitable for urban institutional heating plants. Since cotton cannot be grown in Canada and Canadians consume millions of dollars worth of cotton each year, grown primarily in the US and Mexico, it is believed that this is the reason why the US would not allow hemp to become a rivaling commodity – which is all the more reason for hemp to step up and fill a gap.
The Hempstead Co. becomes the first commercial group to grow in the U.S in recent times. The site was the old Timpkin Ranch, where Schlichten first developed his decorticator. The crop was cultivated on half an acre leased from the government with the cooperation of the Department of Agriculture Desert Research Facility. Other groups in the area researched the product, and several commercial companies have pre-purchased the crop.
DEA regulations for hemp are very strict and call for barrier fences, guard towers, and constant surveillance. However, this field, under the supposedly watchful eye of the USDA, is protected only by a three strand barbed wire fence 200 feet from a ditch in plain view of the state highway – and guarded only 12 hours a day. Despite this, there have been no intrusions or attempts of breaches of security. Narcotic agents inspect the field periodically and have no complaints. At first, the biggest problem was Canadian Blackbirds and white-tail doves eating the newly planted seeds. This would seem trivial to what happens next.
Because of an unrelated press conference held by Ron Kiczinski who was about to plant marijuana seed, the hemp research crop also comes under suspicion. Two days after this press conference, the agent in charge for the state of California tells the hemp farmers that he received phone calls from state authorities claiming that, because the hemp seed tested positive for minute amounts of THC, its cultivation is in violation of the State Health and Safety Code. Unlike the European Economic Community which sets standards for the amount of THC allowed to be present in hemp, the state of California tests only for the presence or absence on THC. If there is any THC present, the crop is declared illegal, despite the fact there is no psychoactive potential.
Shortly after the agents discussion with the farmers, state equipment enter the federally owned field, cut down the hemp and mix it into the soil. The entire commercial crop is destroyed all because marijuana advocates choose that particular time to make a statement and thus ruin any potential hemp has of becoming the versatile and nutritious food and fiber source it can be. Despite the states action in destroying the crop, a tremendous amount of research is completed before the plants are destroyed. Seeds are bred and collected for an enlarged seed bank.
1995: Four Canadian provinces are now growing hemp crops.
1996: The cultivation of low-THC hemp is once again permitted in Germany. Hemp and ecology are closely associated in Germany where hemp is now regarded as THE environmentally friendly natural resource.
1998: As of March 12, it has become legal to grow Hemp in Canada after a 60- year ban.
1999: Health Canada grants 750 hemp licenses. Applicants are able to choose from 23 approved varieties of seed and fiber hemp. Nine out of ten Canadian provinces are now growing hemp.
2004: Health Canada has approved 24 varieties of low-THC industrial hemp for this growing season.
The US has more than 500,000 acres of wild hemp growing every year, second in acreage only to China. Ironically it is these wild patches of hemp that account for more than 95% of the DEA’s publicized ‘marijuana’ seizures every year.
Growing industrial hemp in the US has never been illegal, but the government bureaucracy has made it so difficult for farmers that it simply was not worth their time and effort. Prohibiting hemp product in the US is ILLEGAL, and clearly violates NAFTA and WTO rules.
There needs to be more information, less miss-information, and greater public education so that the public can understand the importance of hemp in our world. If public demand for hemp grew large enough it could end deforestation, reduce the destructive practices of open pit mining, prevent many chronic illnesses and play a major role in the continued success of our species. For over 10,000 years it was one of the most sought after commodities in the world—it can and will be again.