Canada: hemp superstar
In 1999 Health Canada approved about 620 of 750 hemp license applications. Farmers grew over 25,000 acres of hemp, about half of it in Manitoba.
Canadian company Websar has developed a process to extract medicinally useful compounds from low-THC industrial hemp.
In an interview with Cannabis Culture, researcher Barrie Webster explained that Websar was already involved in testing hemp crops for THC levels, and that "there are many interesting compounds in industrial hemp in addition to delta9-THC, and their use from this source avoids the inconvenience associated with having to grow marijuana."
When hemp is harvested for seed the top of the plant is cut off and passes through a combine, which discards all the "non-seed" material back onto the field. This chaff is low in THC but high in CBD and other cannabinoids with medicinal applications.
Canada's hemp ales
Hemp ales have become extremely popular among Canadian beer drinkers.
BC's Bowen Island Brewing launched a Hemp Cream Ale in March 1998, after receiving permission from the feds. It has become their most popular brand.
Newfoundland's Storm Brewing had more trouble when they decided to launch their own hemp ale. After their product launch, the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation noticed the cannabis-leaf logo, decided the drink contained marijuana, and forced Storm Brewing to pour their stock down the drain.
It took six months to finally get approval to market the Hemp Ale, but now it's flying off the shelves at twice the rate of Storm Brewing's other brands.
Hawaii's hempen hopes
Republican state representative Cynthia Thielen has been pushing hard for hemp in Hawaii. She won over Democrat Governor Ben Cayetano in 1998, and this summer she got a bill through the legislature making it legal to grow hemp in Hawaii.
Yet although Minnesota and North Dakota have also signed similar state resolutions, they all still need permits from the DEA, which says it won't issue any.
Thielen hopes to plant experimental research hemp crops next year, and hopes that the promise of extraordinary security measures will sway the DEA.
Thielen claimed that because of Hawaii's year-long growing season, farmers there could produce two to three hemp crops annually.
Woody in Kentucky court
The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear the government's appeal in actor Woody Harrelson's hemp/pot case on October 14.
In 1996, Harrelson planted four hemp seeds in a public protest. He was charged with possession of marijuana, but the District Court found that state law was too broad by including hemp under the marijuana ban.
State prosecutors tried to appeal the decision, but were rejected by the Court of Appeals. The State Supreme Court is their last option.