Humble, hardy plant offers much potential

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How attitudes can change. Pictou County is fortunate to a medical marijuana production plant on the horizon, with Vida Cannabis refurbishing the former Clairtone building in Stellarton for the operation. With recent changes in laws regarding medicinal uses, such an industry would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Much has changed all over. In fact, earlier this week a business-oriented conference was held in Vancouver – Canada’s first medical marijuana, industrial hemp and alternative medicine investment conference.

It is indeed a growth industry. The GreenRush Financial Conference attracted investors, industry exhibitors and pharmaceutical industry reps interested in the huge commercial potential.

And while the medical use of marijuana is still debated in the health community – with plenty of skeptics amidst testimonials from those using it for treatment – there is no doubt about the value of the plant’s humble cousin, industrial hemp.

Lacking the THC that gets people high, hemp has a long history of providing staple products. Going back a century and more, hemp was a common crop for farmers: growing some was a civic duty, to provide fibre needed for ropes in ship rigging.

For a period of time, however, this plant got tangled up in the reefer madness aimed at marijuana, and hemp got sidelined.

But cooler heads have prevailed. We can now go to a local store and buy breakfast cereal or milk substitutes with hemp as an ingredient. This versatile plant yields components for a number of healthy food products with its essential oils and proteins. It can also be the basis for fuel, wax or skin products. The fibre can be used for such products as cloth, or pulp and paper.

With vast, vacated farmland acreages in this province growing over in scrub, this is a cash crop that should be considered.

Naysayers might cite the possible drawback of people mistaking it for marijuana and raiding fields. That would be short-lived. As thieves get only a raw throat and headache, rather than a high, word would get around.

Geographic location: Vancouver, Canada

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