Health Canada announced that revisions to Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will allow industrial hemp farmers to collect and store industrial hemp flower, bud and leaf material. As harvest nears, producers are in a position to capture the full value of this season’s industrial hemp crop by adapting equipment, devising new processes, and working with buyers to meet quality standards. Following implementation of the Cannabis Act on Oct. 17, 2018 this economically valuable material can then be sold for commercial use and research activity.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the fastest growing markets on the planet, with compound annual growth rates in excess of 40%. Globally, the market for CBDs is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2020, a 700% increase over 2015, according to Forbes, a business magazine. Brightfield Group, a market research firm, expects CBD products to grow from 5% of US cannabis sales today, to 12 per cent by 2021.
CBD is found in both cannabis and industrial hemp. Whereas cannabis is primarily grown to produce varying degrees of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana that gets you high, industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC by law. While CBD doesn’t provide you with the “high” that comes from ingesting THC, it affects the human body in other ways. There is, for example, sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that CBD is effective in treating certain forms of epilepsy as well as pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
As the market for CBD grows, Medicine Hat is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of the industry.
Medicine Hat is centrally located to Canada’s hemp belt, which stretches from Winnipeg to Lethbridge, but comes into its own under irrigation in southern Alberta. In recent years, area farmers have accounted for as much as 40% of national food crop production. There is no reason to think that southern Alberta cannot also exceed at growing high-CBD hemp.
Medicine Hat’s workforce has the know-how to safely and efficiently extract CBDs using existing industrial technology. In order to extract CBD, industrial hemp is processed using CO2 or ethanol extraction technology in a pharmaceutical-grade setting. With long experience in agriculture, oil and gas, and petrochemicals, there is certain to be a qualified workforce in Medicine Hat.
Medicine Hat and region offers new and expanding businesses a supportive business climate in which to thrive. The City of Medicine Hat does not charge equipment tax. Taxes and utilities are consistently ranked among the lowest in the country. Medicine Hat is home to a robust business support network including the Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Entre Corp, Alberta Innovates, and Medicine Hat College.
When the new regulations come into effect on Oct. 17, Medicine Hat and area hemp producers will be in a position to capture the full value of this year’s harvest. While much work remains to be done to build this exciting new industry from the ground up, one thing is certain: Medicine Hat is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of the growing industrial hemp sector.
This article was published in the Medicine Hat News on Aug. 29, 2018.