The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has joined the hemp revolution,
offering financial backing and words of support for hemp development in
January 7, Grow Ontario, a $15 million initiative launched last year by
the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, awarded Ruth Shamai of Toronto $60,000
in matching funds for a research project involving hemp oil. Shamai, owner
of environmental research company The Natural Order, will be investigating
the use of industrial hemp seed oil in products ranging from ink and paint
to food items such as margarine.?
“Grow Ontario wants
to lead private sector investment in agriculture,” explains program director
Dianne Coates Milne. “We look for innovative programs to support.”?
Shamai faced some obstacles in her quest for government funding. Her first
proposal to the Ministry of Agriculture was turned down because she planned
on using oil from viable hemp seeds imported from Hungary. Grow Ontario
green lighted her project after Shamai switched to oil from sterilized
seeds grown at a research plot in Saskatchewan.?
Shamai’s interest in hemp began three years ago when she decided to complement
her environmental mail order business with organic cotton and hemp clothes.
The Natural Order, she notes proudly, still sells North America’s only
line of hemp socks.?
At the moment, however, Shamai is mostly interested in hemp oil, a product
she describes as “the sleeper of the hemp industry.”?
Shamai is not the only person in the province to benefit from the Tories’
surprising enthusiasm for hemp.?
who want to grow hemp have received the backing of Noble Villeneuve, the
Minister of Agriculture. According to a story from Canadian Press, Villeneueve
told farmers at a Forest, Ontario meeting in the fall of 1996 that hemp
was “a crop with tremendous potential.” The Minister was receptive to complaints
from farmers who are still not allowed to grow commercial hemp. Ontario
used to be a major producer of hemp until 1938, when it was banned under
the Opium and Narcotics Control Act.?
Coates Milne seems
a little flustered when questioned about the interest the otherwise ultraconservative
Tories have been giving hemp.?
“I wish everyone would just try to relax,” she says. “Hemp is not marijuana.”?
For more info…?
Contact Ruth Shamai
at the Natural Order, PO Box 850, Station P, Toronto, M5S 2Z2;?
tel (416) 653-8593;?