Saskatchewan's industrial hemp industry is on the cusp of major growth, according to a provincial crop specialist.
Dale Risula, crop specialist with the provincial government, said there is a revived interest in hemp because of the impending legalization of marijuana. Regulations surrounding hemp production are also set for change like allowing for the sale of the leaves and flowers.
'[The hemp industry] seems to be progressing quickly in the U.S. and I think we have to stay ahead of that development in order to benefit from any changes that occur," Risula said.
Saskatchewan led the way last year for the provinces with the highest number of Industrial Hemp Licenses and Registrations at 518. Saskatchewan also boasted the most hectarage for cultivation of industrial hemp at 22,654.41. The next closest was Alberta (18,083.01) and Manitoba (11,716.99).
Risula said the majority of hemp producers are in the northern and eastern parts of the province. The hemp seeds, meal and oil are sold mainly to the U.S and Korea and used in natural health products, feed for livestock and cooking oils.
"Certainly for the hemp growers, the removal of any restrictions on harvesting those plant parts is really going to be a big boom to that industry," Risula said.
Risula said the hemp industry, based mainly in Western Canada, is currently worth over $1.5 million dollars.
On Nov. 21, Health Canada launched a public consultation period to gather feedback on the proposed changes. The closing date has now passed and those comments are being reviewed. A spokesperson for Health Canada told paNOW the bill that would change the regulations still requires Senate approval.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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