North America is experiencing a Renaissance in the cannabis sector. Outlawed for 90 years, the crop continued to flourish in other parts of the world but was relegated to the underground in North America. In Canada, lobbying in the early 90’s achieved legalization of “industrial hemp” in 1998: low THC cannabis bred for seed and stalk production.
The new industry began to develop and a few promoters were very active in 1999 thru 2001 encouraging farmers to grow hemp. Promises of contracts from industrial consumers did not materialize and agreements to purchase the crop were not honoured. Industrial hemp market collapsed in 2002 – acreage dropped from 30,000 acres to 3,000. Today the acreage has increased: something over 140,000 acres last year.
Compare that to growing 38 million acres of Canola.Something similar is happening the the U.S. over the past few years. Promoters are using CBD as the modern day gold rush: promises of large returns have encouraged a massive increase in acreage planted. Last year crested 500,000 acres with 20,000 licenses issued across the country. The industry does not have enough harvesting & drying equipment in place. Worse, the CBD sector does not have enough processing and extraction equipment in place. A number of farmers report that contracts are not being honoured and the promoters are not covering expenses as agreed. Prices being offered have plunged dramatically and some projections indicate that market saturation has been reached. In other words, the hype does not live up to reality.
Something else is needed: good, old-fashioned business development without the wild wild west nonsense.Industrial Hemp is AgricultureEven with legalization of cannabis for medical and social uses across Canada in 2018, the industrial hemp sector has not expanded sufficiently to meet demand. Although many of the restrictive regulations were revised, industrial hemp is not treated like typical agricultural crops. Permits are required and farmers are limited to fiftytwo approved cultivars. Vital core technology in the sector continues to inhibit the hemp market.
Improved harvesting and handling equipment is needed. Large scale processing systems are required. Supply chain development is essential. In order to fill large scale industrial contracts for fibre or core, we MUST have all the ducks in a row. The full range: from hemp farm acreage to the factory floor with reliable, consistent production to manufacture the vast array of products made with industrial cannabis.Industrial consumers require a supply chain that simply delivers the tonnage to the loading dock – every week, on time, without delay.
My work in the cannabis community began in 1974. Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance since 2003. Today my focus continues with projects dedicated to the modern technology required to develop the supply chain from the field to the factory. Cannabis sativa (L) (i.e. “cultivated”) creates food, clothing, shelter and medicine from the same ground. This astounding species has missed the industrial revolution.