Source: The London Free Press Author: John Miner, Free Press Regional Affairs Reporter Pubdate: 14 Mar 1998 Contact: http://www.canoe.ca/LondonFreePress/home.html PHOTO: Health Minister Rock with hemp shirt CAPTION: “Slipping into a shirt made of hemp, Health Minister Allan Rock announced in Tillsonburg Friday new regulations that permit the growth and harvesting of a hemp crop in Southwestern Ontario.” HEMP INDUSTRY GIVEN NEW LIFE TILLSONBURG—The Canadian hemp industry was reborn here Friday with more than 100 people cramming into an afternoon news conference to watch Federal Health Minister Allan Rock act as midwife. “As of today, the cultivation and commercial use of hemp for the first time in 60 years is now legal in this country,” Rock told a vigorously applauding audience, which included farmers, crop scientists, farm machinery companies and business people already building hemp-processing plants. Hemp was banned along with marijuana in 1938 because it contained a small amount of the same psychoactive ingredient, THC. The regulations released by Rock Friday to allow farmers to grow hemp put tight controls on the varieties grown to ensure the hemp has no psychoactive effect. Rock, who credited the rural members of Parliament with making him aware of the value of hemp, extolled the virtues of the crop. Hemp can be used as a wood substitute, as a textile, in clothing, rope, automotive parts and as a food source, Rock said. Rock said hemp will not only be a new crop for farmers, but it will mean new products and new jobs. “It is an absolutely remarkable product that, for 60 years, we have not been able to use in this country because of an outdated philosophy. Thank goodness those days are gone,” Rock said. Rock, who angered many in rural areas when he was justice minister for stiffening Canada’s gun control laws, emphasized the need to be sensitive to the rural perspective in Canada. Legalizing hemp production is tangible proof that the federal government does look at issues through a rural lens, he said. Rock was credited by John Finlay, Liberal MP for Oxford, with pushing senior bureaucrats in his department to have the regulations in place to allow commercial hemp production this year. Estimates before Rock took over as health minister were that the regulations would not be ready until 1999 or 2000. “We are here today because this minister made it his personal priority,” Finlay said. For farmers to grow hemp and businesses to process the crop, they must be licensed by Health Canada. Rock said his department is aiming to process applications within 10 days. The regulations also specify that farmers cannot grow less than four hectares, that only approved seed can be grown and crop will be tested for the THC levels.