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Industrial Hemp a Wasted Opportunity: Canadian farmers

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Back when marijuana was legal across America, people had many uses for the hemp plant. They used different parts of it to make clothes, feed animals, make rope, and even to make parachutes. Today, things are very different, unlike in the past where farmers were forced to grow marijuana. These days, you might find yourself behind bars for possessing a very small amount of weed.

I have a question, how do you use marijuana plants? I’m guessing you keep dried buds and leaves hidden in your closet and throw away the stems, roots and seeds, right? According to CBC news, licensed Canadian producers, throw away thousands of kilograms of hemp waste every day.

What you should know about Canada is, Canada has a hemp destruction policy. According to Terry Lake, vice president of corporate social responsibility at hydropothecary.

Canada’s destruction policy for producers makes it impossible to benefit or learn from potentially valuable waste product”

“We are growing like 3,000 kilograms to 108,000 kilograms each year, that’s an awful lot of waste” Terry Lake

Apart from smoking, the hemp plant has more than 1,000 uses. This makes it one of the most useful plants on the planet. The problem is, there are laws that limit what you can do with marijuana. For example, in some states in the US you can use it legally to control pain, but you can’t use it to make textiles or rope. That means that, even if cannabis is legal in your state, it is important to learn the things you are allowed to do with it.

Let’s assume that you have the freedom to do whatever you want with hemp(whole plant), the question is, what do you do with it?

Cosmetic Products

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The hemp plant contains oils that you can use to make lotions, moisturizers, or body oils. I know a friend who makes her own hair product. Her process is simple, she extracts oil from cannabis, mixes it with tea tree oil and uses it on her hair. Not sure about the legality of that, but if you look around I’m sure that you will find lots of beauty products that contain hemp. Beauty wise, You can use hemp extracts in the following ways:

  • Condition and soften your hair
  • To prevent hair loss
  • Prevent breakage
  • Promote hair growth
  • As a moisturizer
  • Anti inflammatory
  • To treat eczema and other skin problems.

The awesome thing about making your own hair care or skin care products is. You don’t have to worry about dangerous additives found in store bought products that may damage your hair or skin. Apart from beauty and skin care, you can use the hemp plant in the following ways:

  • To make paper
  • Food and nutrition
  • Fabric textiles and rope
  • To make bricks (building materials)
  • Fuel
  • Plastics
  • Pet food and bedding
  • Oil based products

Is There a Market for Hemp Products in The US?

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Although, industrial production of hemp is illegal in the US, the importation and sale of hemp products is not. Globally, the market for hemp consists of more than 20,000 products in nine sub-markets:

  • Agriculture
  • Food and beverages
  • Paper
  • Construction materials
  • Personal care
  • Automotive
  • Furniture
  • Textiles
  • Recycling

In 2016, the total domestic value of hemp retail products was $668 million. According to some projections, that number may rise up to $2.1 billion by 2020. Currently, the US imports close to $600 million worth of hemp related products annually. If you choose to tap into this market, the biggest expense you will face is labor. Think about it. Under the right conditions, marijuana grows on its own. It doesn’t require herbicides, it is very easy to grow, it is highly profitable, and you don’t need specialized machinery to harvest hemp.

The reason why now, is the right time to get into the hemp business is. There aren’t enough farmers growing industrial hemp in the US. Because of that, the demand is higher than the supply.

Hemp Legal Requirements (U.S)

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In 2014, a Federal Farm Bill  that allows states (15 states) to create pilot programs for industrial hemp research was approved. If you want to start growing hemp in Washington today or in any other state where it’s legal, the first thing you should do is. Apply for a license from the WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) or the registering body in your state. Use this mapping tool. Currently, the WSDA is responsible for inspecting, sampling and testing industrial hemp-seeds in Washington.

The four main types of licenses are:

  • Processor/marketer license
  • Combination license
  • Seed distributor license
  • Grower license

The WSDA has also set guidelines on how to obtain, handle, transport and store hemp-seed. To avoid problems with the law, stick to the set guidelines. In Washington, persons who grow industrial hemp qualify as farmers, meaning, you won’t have to register with the Department of Revenue.

Keep in mind that, you will have to pay taxes and depending on where you are. There are tax breaks you can exploit. In Washington the tax breaks available to hemp farmers include:

  • Purchases on fuel to be used on hemp farm
  • Property tax (open space act)
  • Sales tax exemption on Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment
  • Purchases of seed, seedlings, fertilizers, spray materials, or agents for enhanced pollination.

Remember, state laws are different. Check them and check hemp policies in your state before. Word to the wise “find a market before planting seeds”.

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