Source: The London Free Press
Author: John Miner,  Free Press Regional Affairs Reporter
Pubdate: 14 Mar 1998
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.”


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

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able to use in this country because of an outdated philosophy.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.