Hemp Making a Comeback Despite Idiotic Pot Laws

The symptoms and side effects of reefer madness are now clearer than ever. Politicians, even those who never inhaled, suffer paranoid delusions.

Over the past century, Canada’s ludicrous and draconian marijuana policies wasted billions in criminal-justice resources.

Crime gangs got rich and recreational marijuana users–about as dangerous as contented cats–were fined and jailed by the thousands.

But that’s only half of it. What we now know is that the government’s marijuana paranoia cost this country a cash crop of boundless potential.

I don’t mean marijuana, though some of us wish pot was grown and taxed by government so the windfall could enrich society instead of gangsters.

I refer instead to hemp, a benign super-plant and casualty of Canada’s war on drugs.

Fortunately, hemp is finally making a comeback, in part because of the work of the Alberta Research Council.

ARC plant physiologist Jan Slaski is as keen on hemp as he is tired of reefer jokes.

Slaski isn’t laughing, he says, because the jokes only perpetuate a bad myth.

Hemp, or industrial hemp as Slaski calls it, is not marijuana. Two different plants.

Slaski says the hardy hemp plant has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years. Its plant fibres were used in everything from clothes to shoes to rope. Its seed oil is rich in health Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

When Ukrainian settlers came to Canada, they brought hemp seeds. One record in the archives talked about pioneers using hemp to create a soothing tea.

But while industrial hemp has some of the psycho-active THC found in marijuana, the amounts are far less intoxicating than all-ages, de-alcoholized beer.

Slaski says THC concentrations in hemp are a fraction–one per cent or less–of that in marijuana. You’d die of smoke inhalation trying to get high.

Still, one of the research council’s aims is to breed a hemp plant with no detectable THC. Why? Because of marijuana paranoia.

In 1998, 60 years after the feds prohibited the growing of hemp as part of its war on drugs, controlled plots were again allowed.

Modern hemp growers had to jump through high hoops, including a criminal record check and detailed licence application to Health Canada.

The lingering hemp hysteria is summed up nicely by one of Health Canada’s rules: No hemp can be grown within one kilometre of a school.

So why is the research council working so hard to redeem hemp? Well, because of its potential to not only give Alberta farmers an economic edge, but also help save the environment.

Hemp literally grows like a weed. It can reach or exceed three metres in height during our short growing season.

It produces biomass–usable plant material–like nothing else.

Researchers have yet to identify a pest threat to hemp. It’s early season vigour allows it to out-compete weeds. So unlike cereal crops, hemp is organic, requiring no pesticide applications.

“It truly is a super crop,” Slaski says.

Forget hemp’s healthy food-oil potential for a moment. That may come if people can get over the fear of taking a trip on hemp-fried foods.

But the fibre from hemp could be used in everything from pulp-and-paper to textiles. Alberta is only one of many jurisdictions in the world that clear-cuts forests for pulp.

Forest companies must travel further and further from the pulp mill to retrieve feed stock, which then takes at least 60 years to regrow.

Put enough hemp in production and you’d get an annual, renewable fibre supply for paper production.

Hemp could also replace cotton, which requires large applications of pesticides. Hemp could also replace glass fibre, which is used in the making of composite materials, like plastics for the automotive industry.

Glass fibre requires high heat and energy in its industrial production. Hemp? Rain and sun. Glass fibres aren’t biodegradable like hemp. Hemp fibres are lighter. Lighter cars require less fuel.

The use of hemp in composite plastics is being studied in earnest by the ARC. Slaski has talked to automakers who say they’ll sign contracts if hemp composites meet strict requirements. And if production levels can be guaranteed.

The first requirement is being met ARC labs. But we’re a long way from widespread hemp farming, largely because of its undeserved reputation.

But then again, marijuana also has an undeserved reputation. It’s obvious to anyone who looks objectively at the facts that marijuana causes less harm than alcohol, both to the individual and society.

Is marijuana safe? Any psychoactive substance can be abused. But marijuana doesn’t kill brain cells or inspire violence like alcohol does.

So when you consider how this society promotes and celebrates the use of a more dangerous drug, alcohol, our marijuana policies appear silly.

But even sillier is that industrial hemp got caught up in the madness.

In case you’re wondering, the answer is no. I don’t smoke pot. I tried it as a teenager but I found it made me paranoid.

– Article from the Edmonton Journal.



  1. Anonymous on

    They make you buy their special overpriced hemp seed that’s so expensive that you can’t make any decent profit from the crop. In regard to hemp uses, I think the most valuable thing is the protein in the seeds. It’s a very special protein which is perfect for humans. It could dominate the protein supplement market, it’s only competition being whey or soy protein. The purified protein certainly wouldn’t contain any THC. Right now, they are pressing out the oil and then who knows what they do with the remaining seedcake? Probably sell it for animal feed.

  2. Anonymous on

    If i could farm hemp, I would be out od debt period, hemp would grow so freakin well in my soil where I farmed wheat for 40 years, it would save our local economy as well. Imagine the innovations>?

    we must at all cost keep the non-thc modified cannabis from perpetuating our plant species.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. greg williams on

    thc is a molecule that can not be made stronger than its genetic background under any circumstance.

    if you take a plant with 2% thc and cross it with one that has 3% thc, the thc levels will not exceed 3%. THC does not gain momentum on its own.

    instead of a drug war, how about a drug to end all war. Cannabis seems to be that ” drug”
    no need to fight for oil.
    no need to fight for food
    no need to fight for trees
    no need to fight for water

    These are the four things we find ourselves at war for,

  4. Dave on

    Maybe someone here can answer my question?

    Is it true, after 7 or so generations hemp will start producing higher THC levels on its own? Is that why hemp farmers are not allowed to produce their own seeds for the next season?

  5. slade420 on

    Hemp farming could save our economy including my home town (Marathon, Ontario) where the local pulp mill was abruptly shut down and hundreds in a town of only 3800 people, lost their lobs, and pensions i believe. making hemp pulp, hemp plastics and other hemp products here could make help save this town create a growing industry. It would revive the region.

  6. Dan-o on

    Hemp is my pet peeve. Such a useful crop outlawed because of complete utter ignorance on our politicians part. The DEA spends our tax dollars to outlaw a crop that can and someday WILL bring in billions to our farmers(& our tax man also).
    On a side note. I can’t mention hemp without thinking of Jack Herer, God bless him and his work, I pray he returns to good health soon.