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REGINA, Saskatchewan – The big dreams envisioned for the hemp industry haven't yet materialized but it is slowly growing in the right direction, says the manager of the Saskatchewan Hemp Association.

Hemp, a member of the cannabis family of plants, was legalized in 1998 and a year later 12,000 hectares were being grown in Canada.

"That was way ahead of the marketplace. There was a lot of excitement – 'let's grow hemp, the buyers will come.' But they weren't there.

Now the buyers are there. All these people buying hemp now are companies that have been started up in the last five years," said Arthur Hanks of the hemp association as it held its annual general meeting Friday at the Assiniboia Club.

About 400 hectares were planted with hemp last year in Canada. About 30 per cent is in Saskatchewan, the second-largest hemp producing province behind Manitoba.

Just like other agricultural products, hemp production took a hit last year because of wide-ranging drought, said Hanks.

The resulting scarcity has pushed up prices.

Hanks said that increasing interest in hemp for food and cosmetic uses is helping the market to grow.

There were six buyers at the meeting, up from two last year.

"They're looking at seed, toasted seed products, they're looking at hemp oil," he said.

As well, there continues to be a great deal of interest in hemp as a fibre and for industrial use.

About 40 producers, researchers and buyers were at the meeting.

Keith Hutchence a senior research scientist with the Saskatchewan Research Council, said hemp could have a big role to play as Saskatchewan works to develop its ethanol industry.

Even the remnants of hemp, after it has been processed for seeds and high-quality fibre, is a superior biomass feed stock for the production of the high-octane, water free alcohol fuel, he said.

Saturday, February 8, 2003
Hemp dreams slow to take root
James Wood, Regina Leader-Post
Provided by: www.globalhemp.com
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