Potential hemp farmers in Canada are becoming frustrated with the regulations that Health Canada is giving them. June 10th was the seeding deadline for several hemp growers, but they still hadn’t received their license to grow from health Canada yet. This means that it will be too late in the season for these farmers, and some even gave up beforehand and switched to a different kind of crop.
Kim Shukla is the executive director of the Canadian Industrial Hemp Association, and she says she is very frustrated by the matter. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. There have been so many changes at Health Canada they just don’t have the people working on our files any longer. It is creating a whole bunch of issues within Health Canada being able to process the documentation. They say they have a 30-working-day turnaround. We rarely see that.”
Shukla says that these regulations stifle future production of the plants. He says that “If we don’t get seed in the ground we might not have certified seed down the road. We may not feel the repercussions of that for several years. Every time they delay a license people are giving up, not bothering with the crop, and going to something else. Unfortunately they do not let us know who is waiting. The only time we hear back is when someone is saying, ‘Look, I just can’t do this anymore. We have been waiting for months.’”
The delays in licensing are only one part of the problem, as the Health Canada regulations make it hard for the growers to produce the hemp they want. This puts Canadian hemp growers at a competitive disadvantage when compared to growers in the U.S. as Canadians are only allowed to harvest the bare stalk and seed, leaving behind the valuable leaves. Shukla comments, saying that “In Canada… there is a whole market segment that we are totally missing. And it is another piece of value the farmer could be capturing from this crop. Ironically, today Canadians who need the beneficial cannabinoids to treat medical conditions only have recourse to marijuana, while these components of our hemp crops are being left to waste in Canadian fields.”