After meeting in Calgary this week, hundreds of representatives from the Canadian hemp industry are calling on the government to ease restrictions on growers.

The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance wants to be able to utilize the entire hemp plant, an opportunity that they say is potentially worth billions of dollars.

Current rules dictate that farmers are only allowed to harvest seeds and bare stock, but CHTA executive director Kim Shukla said hemp can also produce cannabidiol a substance with health benefits.

“[It] has been shown under research to have some pretty significant beneficial health impacts,” Shukla said. “This is being supported by research studies that have been done in Canada and abroad.”

The CHTA pointed to the research of Dr. Steven Laviolette from the University of Western Ontario.

“Cannabidiol may serve as an effective treatment for devastating psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder,” stated Laviolette. “In addition, emerging evidence is revealing potential benefits of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy.”

Shukla said farmers in the U.S. can harvest other parts of the hemp plant which puts the Canadian insutry at a disadvantage.

“What’s really quite frustrating is that Canada has been the leader in hemp production for the past 15 years,” Shukla said. “It’s a market advantage that we have but we are very close to losing that advantage because of these antiquated regulations under which we operate.”

The group has requested “immediate action from the Liberal government.”