The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), based in Steinbach, Manitoba, held its 2009 National Hemp Convention Nov. 16–18 at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Presentations and discussions ranged around product development, market opportunities and global perspectives on the future of hemp and hemp fibers used in the textile industry.
Hemp production was legalized in Canada in March 1998, but has struggled to develop profitable markets. Some smaller companies have been successful, however. Sean Crew of Hemp Oil Canada said that his company’s move into profitability demonstrates that hemp products can become a stronger industry with more development. Industry members told conference attendees that there will be more opportunities; Jason Finnis of Naturally Advanced Technologies said that his company plans to supplement its European hemp fiber imports with Canadian-grown fibers during the next 2–3 years. Farmers who wish to supply hemp fiber will need to ensure that they grow the fiber varieties rather than the seed varieties that now comprise most of the acreage in Canada.
Despite a growing hemp lobby, the U.S. maintains its ban on hemp production, arguing that legalizing hemp would make it difficult to differentiate marijuana and hemp fields.