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Letter to John Bean from Ministry of Agriculture

By Hempology | September 18, 2003

Mar 27 2003

File: 0280-30

Ref: 65005

Dear John Bean and Co-Signers:

Your recent letter to the Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier, Province of British
Columbia has been forwarded to me for a response.

While there are many good uses for industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa, most
of them were in the first half of the 20th century or earlier. There have been many
products that replaced or became very competitive with hemp-based goods. For example,
hemp rope has to compete with nylon and polypropylene. Textiles have to do the same
and compete with a much improved cotton industry. To heat a house with hemp oil in
today’s economy, would be 30 times more expensive than the mineral-based fuels and
whould not be affordable for most homeowners.

Ministry staff concur that hemp makes very good paper, however, if you were to convert
a pulp mill to process hemp, there would not be enough agriculture land in British
Columbia to supply the mill. There is also the factor of transporting hemp, since hemp
is a low-density product to handle, it takes four trucks of hemp to equal one truck
of logs or shavings.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada statistics indicate that the demand for hemp worldwide
has been decreasing. You might believe that hemp production is increasing in Europe,
especially England and Germany, but it is done with substantial farm subsidy, and produces
specialty items such as cigarette paper.

Some farmers in British Columbia produce fiber and/or grain hemp under federal government
regulations, however, most have stopped due to lack of market demand for seed and fiber
and/or a suitable economic return.

There may be a place in today’s economy for small-scale operations to supply small-scale
processors, producing niche market items such as soaps. There is no economic advantage to
large-scale production. The price of machinery needed to grow hemp on a large scale is
prohibitive, if a market could be found.

For further information on hemp, please refer to the Ministry of Agriculture Food and
Fisheries website at You may
also contact the Ministry’s industry specialist for special crops who is Al Oliver, at the
Kamloops office, by telephone at 250 371-6059 or e-mail

Thank you for your comments and suggestions.

Yours truly,


Stanley B. Hagen



Honourable Gordon Campbell


Ida Chong, MLA

(Oak Bay-Gordon Head)

Al Oliver, Industry Specialist

Industry Competitiveness Branch

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