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ADVOCATES STILL HIGH ON HEMP

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The420Guy

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When it was reintroduced as a crop in Canada in 1998, commercial hemp was
expected to spur an industrial bonanza.

Investors were quick to jump into various hemp-related industries with
visions of fat profits dancing in their heads.

As it turns out, reality has fallen far short of expectations.


"Lots of people have lost lots of money," says Louise Hollingsworth,
president of the Ontario Hemp Alliance.

It's not that commercial hemp is a total flop.

Companies such as Hempline in Delaware are marketing a range of hemp
products.

Hempline produces primary fibre used in the automotive, furniture and
construction industries, among other applications, as well as a product
called HempChips, used for garden mulch and animal bedding.

And Ruth's Hemp Foods in Toronto produces a range of foods sold in health
food stores and supermarkets across Canada, including stores in the London
region.

Among the company's products are hemp tortilla chips, hemp energy bars, hemp
salad dressing, hemp oil and shelled hemp seeds.

Company president Ruth Shamai is also working on a hemp burger that will hit
the market soon.

Hemp food products come from the seed of the plant, extolled by hemp
advocates for its nutritional qualities.

The seed is a great source of omega fatty acids that help to lower
cholesterol, decrease fatigue and increase focus, they say.

And they praise the high-quality protein that comes from hemp seeds.

Shamai and Hempline president Geofrey Kime will be speaking at a hemp
symposium being held Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Wolf Performance
Hall at London's Central Library.

The symposium will examine the history and future of industrial hemp in
Canada.

Growers have been permitted to grow commercial hemp in Canada only since
1998 and then only under tight controls.

The long-standing reluctance to permit hemp production was, of course,
because it is a member of the same family of plants as marijuana.

The big difference is that the psychoactive element that gives marijuana its
kick exists only in minute quantities in commercial hemp.

An intensive lobbying effort finally convinced government decision-makers
hemp should be grown in Canada.

The industry continues to grow, though not as quickly as some have hoped.

Growing hemp is not the problem. It's the need for Canadian processing and
manufacturing facilities to handle the plant fibres once they are grown.

That part of the industry is coming along slowly, concedes Hollingsworth.

But as president of the Ontario Hemp Alliance, she sees positive
developments on the international horizon.

A serious fibre shortage is developing in a world hungry for the raw
materials to spin or weave into an almost limitless range of products.

"That's going to make a big difference to the hemp industry in Canada," she
says.


Pubdate: Mon, 07 Apr 2003
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: http://www.fyilondon.com/londonfreepress/
 
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