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What is hemp, and is it legal?

Region: Ontario Answer # 2308

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. It is different from other varieties of cannabis, particularly marijuana.

Specifically, hemp:

  • has a much lower THC cannabinoid content (less than 0.3% in Canada) than marijuana, eliminating its psychoactive effects
  • has a higher CBD content, up-to 40%
  • stalks can grow quickly, and are generally much skinnier and taller than marijuana plants
  • leaves are thinner and less densely clustered than marijuana plant leaves
  • is usually grown outdoors and does not require the attention to growing conditions such as light, temperature and humidity levels that marijuana does

There are two main reasons for hemp production:

1.  Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp refers to hemp plants that are grown for their fibre and stock used to make a number of commercial and industrial products, such as rope and clothes.

2.  Hemp in foods

Hemp is also cultivated for use in food products, particularly the seeds and oil that are added to foods or used as a supplement and are considered to be very beneficial to health.

What is hemp oil?

Hemp oil is a product made from cold pressing hemp seeds (from the cannabis sativa L strain of plant) to extract the oil and can be:

  • added to food,
  • taken on its own as a dietary supplement,
  • applied topically as a moisturizing oil, or
  • used in industrial applications

Hemp production in Canada

It is legal to grow hemp in Canada, but growers must have a license. Commercial hemp production in Canada is regulated and licensed by Health Canada. Under The Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR), licensed individuals and/or companies can cultivate and process industrial hemp for commercial purposes.

The Industrial Hemp Regulation Program is responsible for administering licences, permits and authorizations for all persons in Canada who cultivate, distribute, import, export, and process industrial hemp. Through the Program, Canadian farmers are permitted to grow low-THC cannabis for industrial use, under controlled circumstances.

However, it is important to note that the production of derivatives or products made from whole industrial hemp plants, including sprouts, or the leavesflowers or bracts of those plants, cannot be authorized by a licence issued under the IHR. These activities are controlled under the Cannabis Act and are not authorized under the IHR.

Most of Canada’s industrial hemp is grown in the three Prairie Provinces, Saskatchewan, followed by Alberta, then Manitoba. According to Statistics Canada, only about 10% of hemp produced in Canada is used in Canada, the rest is exported to other countries, the majority of it to the US.

For more information on the many ways hemp is used, view What products can be made from hemp?

For more information on licensing, hemp production and Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulation Program, visit canada.ca.

To erase your criminal record for simple cannabis possession or any other criminal charges, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

For legal advice and assistance with a cannabis related matter, contact our preferred cannabis law expert, Harrison Jordan Law .

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