Diligence pays off for Canadian hemp

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Pressure from the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) has finally paid off for the country’s domestic industry as government officials this week removed a key requirement that hemp grain and fiber crops be tested for THC, and introduced other changes aimed at simplifying hemp regulatory and licensing rules, HempToday has learned.

The changes come after years of efforts by CHTA aimed at freeing up the industry to reach its broader potential. The Alliance had issued a blistering critique of Health Canada last week when Health Minister Jane Philpott canceled an appearance at CHTA’s annual conference.

“It looks like our message was heard by the Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau),” one source told HT. “He simply walked across the hall and ordered the Minister of Health Canada to fix it.”

A THC testing requirement remains for cultivators of hemp for certified seed, or for inclusion of varieties on Canada’s List of Approved Cultivars (LOAC). Under an existing rule that was not changed, tests for certified seed and LOAC-destined crops must still be submitted by Nov. 15 of the year the test was performed, unless the cultivar is exempted from the LOAC, according to Health Canada’s notice informing the industry of the changes.

In addition to dropping the primary THC testing requirement, other changes include:

  • Cultivation licenses will be issued without the need to pre-identify planting sites. Instead farmers can now choose planting sites at the time of planting, and simply notify the Office of Controlled Substances within 15 days of seeding.
  • Minimum acreage requirements for hemp cultivation have been dropped.
  • One hemp growing license will now cover all cultivation sites and activities, reducing the number of licenses and license amendments required.
  • License expiration rules have been extended to March of the year after planting to allow for the sale and purchase of products grown in the previous year.
  • Required criminal record checks are now valid for one year from the date they were issued.
  • Less information will be required regarding registration, and that process has generally been simplified.
  • Farmers can now submit their growing applications by email.

Under the revised rules scheme, those who may require licenses include seed, grain and fiber producers; hemp plant breeders; distributors and re-resellers; processors; any entities that test for grain viability; and importers and exporters, Health Canada said.

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