So the Cannabis Act came into force on October 18.
Depending upon where you live in Canada the reaction has been quite different.
In British Columbia the potential for the change to create economic activity and to allow recreational use of a product many see as less dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol has been spurred by a province taking a very liberal approach to how to implement the new Act.
In Saskatchewan the government has been a rather vocal opponent of the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis from the outset, and the system surrounding the Act’s implementation is more guarded here to say the least.
In terms of agriculture the new Act isn’t going to mean a great deal since the cannabis one will buy in the shops will be grown under some rather strict licenses, at least initially as the overall system has something of a developmental learning curve ahead of it.
But there is another side to this story, or at least potentially another side, which should have farmers much more intrigued.
With marijuana now available in select stores, the cloud of arrest for using the product recreationally blown away, it could open the door to more attention being paid to hemp, and its potential across a range of sectors.
“Hemp, or industrial hemp (from Old English hænep), typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products,” details Wikipedia. “It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.”
It is hemp’s ability to annually produce large quantities of biomass which can be used in such a diverse range of products which has long intrigued producers. The crop could create a viable rotational crop option, for producers, which would also take them into markets away from traditional cereals and oilseeds.
Hemp has never really gotten off the ground as a farm crop because of it familial connection.
“Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses,” states Wikipedia. “Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects.”
Now with the Cannabis Act in place the opportunity exists for greater research and development of hemp both in terms of being a farm crop, and in terms of its end uses.
Long term that may prove the most important aspect of what the new Act came to allow.