Friday , October 22 2021

Abbotsford Hemp Harvest takes a hit from uninformed thieves


The Warmerdam family planted one of the first B.C. hemp fields to be harvested for CBD oil.

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A field of cannabis plants proved to be irresistible to thieves who probably mistook hemp for marijuana and fled with part of Abbotsford's farmer Nick Warmerdam this fall.

"We had a lot of volunteer help in the middle of the night," he said.

Low in THC but rich in cannabidiol (CBD), plants probably did not give thieves the high level they expected. "It's hard to imagine they were stealing the oil from the CBD," Warmerdam said.

Theft was just one of several problems the farmer had to face in trying to grow one of Canada's newest agricultural products. On October 17, growing hemp for CBD oil became legal along with growing marijuana. Hemp plants, such as marijuana, contain CBD, but contain minimal amounts of THC (0.3% or less). The distinction is not well known, and the sight of marijuana growing in the open was a shock to several passersby who assumed it was marijuana.

"(Cannabis cultivation is) is still very new. People really do not understand this. I'm not sure if the robbery is a problem that will soon disappear, "Warmerdam said.

Nick Warmerdam hemp plants before harvest.

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The farmer is also dealing with other growing pains. While he is allowed to grow hemp, he can not legally extract the oil under Canadian law. It must be sold to a licensed producer or processor.

After Warmerdam found a buyer, he discovered that the product could not be used because the tests showed pesticide residues. The level is 1,000 times less than the allowable amount of hemp grown in America and 100 times less than the allowable amount in Canadian broccoli and other vegetables, he said.

"We do not spray it on hemp, it's something that stays on the ground for a long time, it's allowed in our food, which does not make much sense."

Warmerdam hopes he will be able to persuade the government to reconsider the rules on hemp production but, for now, his product, which has been cut into bits like hay and dry, is in stock.

The farmer admitted that growing hemp for CBD oil was a bet. But it's one that makes sense. In spring, their fields are usually filled with daffodils and tulips. He planted his hemp crop from cuttings in late May and transplanted them to his fields in late July. He harvested from the end of September to the beginning of November.

"There is a demand for (CBD oil), but the bureaucracy is making it difficult," he said. "This is putting legal producers at a disadvantage."

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