HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Hemp Firm Fears US Import Ban
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Jan 2001
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2001 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Tammy Marlowe


A Manitoba-based hemp company is worried it may be effectively shut 
down if a proposal by the American Drug Enforcement Agency gains any 
more momentum.

"You're talking about a pretty formidable foe to go up against," 
Shaun Crew, president of Hemp Oil Canada Inc., said this week. In 
1998, the provincial government changed regulations to allow those 
who wanted to grow industrial hemp in Manitoba to do so, under strict 
guidelines and with a permit.

Crew established his hemp food processing company in Ste. Agathe the 
same year, and exports up to 80% of his oil and seed products to the 

While hemp is used to make everything from clothing to paper to lip 
balm and coffee, it's running into some problems south of the border, 
thanks to its criminal cousin -- marijuana.

THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that creates the "high," 
and makes it an illegal drug. Because hemp is derived from the same 
type of plant, its products also contain a trace amount of THC.

But the U.S. has a "zero tolerance policy on THC," said Brian Wilson, 
Manitoba Agriculture and Food's crop diversification manager, adding 
the DEA is pushing to have all products with any THC content banned 
from import into the U.S.

That means products like Crew's would not be allowed into the country.

Competitive Advantage

The DEA is worried those who ingest hemp products may test positive for drugs.

"It just doesn't happen. There isn't a chance that someone would fail 
a test," said Crew. "If they shut the border down on us, that's a 
huge market. To the U.S., hemp is marijuana and marijuana is hemp. 
They've kind of still got their heads stuck in the sand."

Wilson said hemp is a very new crop in Manitoba, and this province 
has a competitive advantage because of its liberal legislation.

He worries such a lucrative new crop may have trouble establishing 
itself if Canada's largest trading partner closes off its borders.

"It's a young industry, but it does have a lot of potential," Wilson 
said. "We depend, in agriculture, very much on export markets -- we 
don't have a large population base in Canada. If the U.S. does 
something to restrict our access to the market it disrupts our 
economy very, very much."

Crew said he expects to learn more about the DEA proposal in the next 
couple of weeks. If he has to, he said he'll file a complaint under 
the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Until then he'll keep lobbying, along with several other groups in 
the States, to have the separation of marijuana and hemp recognized. 
"It's a lot of power to fight, but we've got a lot of friends, so 
here's to hoping they don't get away with this."
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