With the rapidly expanding CBD industry, growing hemp in Canada has become one of the most profitable activities in the country. The cultivation of hemp began several years back and has increased significantly after the plant’s legalization in Canada in 1998.
According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, the Canadian hemp harvested area started at 5,300 acres in 1998 and trended to 144,525 acres in 2020. The CHTA now forecasts that the harvested area will increase to 181,000 in 2021 and 341,000 in 2025.
If you want to know more about hemp farming in Canada, you have come to the right place. This guide explores all the facts about hemp cultivation in Canada. You will also learn all the regulations for growing hemp in Canada and the various uses of hemp.
That said, let’s get started!
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What are Hemp Plants?
The hemp plant is among the many Cannabis sativa species that are among the oldest cultivated worldwide. It contains Cannabidiol (CBD) and other compounds that can get extracted and used as ingredients for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and health products.
However, it’s important to note that hemp is different from cannabis, commonly known as marijuana. The main difference between hemp and other cannabis plants is their usage, cultivation, and THC content. Cannabis contains more THC than hemp.
THC is a psychoactive compound found in the Cannabis plant or marijuana. It means if you take cannabis, you will get “high.” So for any cannabis plant to get considered hemp, it must have less than 0.3 percent THC on a dry-weight basis.
On the other hand, most cannabis plants contain 5-30 percent THC. However, while the hemp plant has low THC content, it may contain other cannabinoids in large quantities, such as Cannabidiol (CBD). Note that CBD is non-psychoactive and non-intoxicating.
Distinctive Features of the Hemp Plant
All cannabis plants may look similar in their wild state. However, cultivated hemp tends to look quite different from other cannabis plants.
Here are some of the unique characteristics of the hemp plant.
- Grow closer to each other
- Can grow tall to a height of 20 feet
- The leaves look skinnier and concentrated at the plant’s top
- Can grow under various conditions and need minimal care
Conversely, other cannabis plants grow spaced from one another in their natural state. They also have broad and tightly budded leaves. Besides, they grow shorter than hemp.
Is Growing Hemp Legal in Canada
Now that you know what hemp plants look like, you may wonder if it is legal in Canada. Hemp had been illegal for many years until 1998 when it got legalized for industrial and medicinal applications. However, Health Canada strictly regulates hemp production.
In 1998, Canada developed the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR) to allow controlled production, processing, movement, and sale of industrial hemp. The IHR program offers regulatory approvals for commercial production of the industrial hemp plant.
The IHR program comprises a system of permits, licenses, and other authorizations for farmers engaged in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of hemp in Canada. An excellent provision in the IHR program is that hemp must not have over 0.3% THC.
Here are the other regulations controlling the production and distribution of hemp.
- Products derived or manufactured from hemp plants must not have over ten micrograms of THC per gram.
- Industrial hemp stalks that have no flowers and leaves or non-viable seeds are exempt from the Act.
- Any individual found in possession of the hemp plant parts, besides non-viable seeds and stalk, without a license may get charged under the Act.
- You can only grow industrial hemp under a license from Health Canada. The license gets issued for every calendar year, and you must renew it after expiry.
- Any leaf or seed residue found in machinery or any other vehicle without a proper license may be considered a possession of controlled substances in Canada.
- Thorough cleaning of machinery, vehicles, or equipment used to harvest and distribute hemp materials is essential under the IHR program.
- Transporting any hemp product to other countries, including the U.S., could be an offense in that particular country.
- Licenses for hemp growing in Canada are issued for crops of 10 acres (4 hectares) or even more.
- Farmers can only carry out small-scale experimental activities, and seed breeding using Research or Breeder permits only.
- Any person applying for a commercial hemp license must submit the current police criminal records alongside their license application.
Procedure for Hemp Growing in Canada
If you want to become a hemp farmer, you now know some of the regulations you must uphold to be on the right side of the law.
Here is how to get started!
The first thing to do is visit the Health Canada Cannabis Tracking and Licensing website to submit your application. Thankfully, you will also find Canada Health’s Industrial Hemp Licensing Application Guide to help you with the license application process.
While the application may get processed as the planting season approaches, you need to apply for the license now, even if you’ll grow hemp next year. Next, you can decide your primary produce, whether straw/oilseed/flower producer or a straw/flower producer.
The type of hemp plant you’ll grow and how you will do that depends on your buyers’ specifications, your interests, and what works best for you. One good thing about growing hemp is that it’s convenient. It’s usually the last seeded and last harvested.
Benefits of Hemp Growing in Canada
Hemp plants come with several health benefits. First, hemp seeds and hemp oil are rich in nutrients, such as fiber, protein, and magnesium. Second, hemp seeds also have relatively high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help to:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Lower the effects of bone density loss (osteoporosis)
- Reduce symptoms on skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema
When growing hemp in Canada, you have to observe all the rules and regulations in the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IRH) program. For instance, your hemp products must not have more than 0.3 percent THC. However, you’ll only achieve that when you get your products tested in the laboratory. Most importantly, don’t forget to apply for a license.