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FEDS EASING RESTRICTIONS ON HEMP GROWING

The Vancouver Province News

February 9, 1997
By Suzy Hamilton

NELSON -- Hemp could be grown for commercial use as early as next year, a federal health department spokesman says.

"It's expected that commercial regulations will be in place by 1998,'' Steve Jeffries said from Ottawa. "The regulations are being written right now.''

That's good news for Winnipeg hemp entrepreneur Martin Moravcik and Nelson resident Alan Middlemiss. Two years ago they grew nearly eight hectares (20 acres) of hemp under licence in southern Manitoba for fibre and oil research.

"It's wonderful news for Western Canada, especially for the farmer,'' said Middlemiss. Last year, experimental plots of hemp were grown in nearly every province but B.C., he said.

"Because of the smaller land base, I see B.C. getting into seed cultivation, research and breeding.'' Moravcik is already in the seed business. He buys low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) seeds from Europe and China for farmers who have obtained licences.

Marijuana, illegal for recreational use, contains up to 10 per cent THC, the ingredient that gives its buds mind- altering properties, Moravcik said.

Industrial hemp -- whose stalks are used for fibre and seeds for food and oil -- contains less than half a per cent of THC. It is ineffective as a drug. "There's going to be a new vocabulary to learn if you want to be in on this,'' said Moravcik. "We're going to get a chance to put our money where our mouth is.''