March 1, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Robert McKenzie

Mr. McKENZIE (Lambton-Kent):

I was not in the house when the minister introduced this bill. I have no desire to reopen the discussion, because the less publicity given this question, the better. I may be entirely out of order, but since it has been brought in I have received communications from certain persons in Lambton county who for over twenty-four years have been growing what is called Indian hemp for commercial purposes. They entered into this project encouraged by the Department of Agriculture and sponsored by them, and have made quite a profitable enterprise out of it during the past several years.
As I read the amendment it is possible to obtain a licence to grow this hemp under certain conditions. That may be all right, but if the restrictions are so great as to make it impracticable to grow this hemp, then I suggest that no licences should be granted at all. If you will look at the Canadian Almanac at page 102, in connection with the tariff, you will notice that hemp seed is listed for free importation. That would lead me to believe that it is possible to import seed and to grow it commercially. I fully realize that if this bill is passed it will be more difficult to control the growing of what is known as marihuana in small plots in back yards, or in flower pots, than it will be to control it in a commercial way.
One grower I have in mind is probably the only man in Canada who has converted hemp into a spinnable fibre for export, and he has built up a profitable sideline. In all fairness, if the restrictions are to be made too severe in the granting of licences, then the privilege should be abolished and this grower should be compensated for the money he has spent on machinery, and for the profitable industry he has built up. I bring this to the attention of the minister because in the twenty-four years that this man has grown this hemp there has been no complaint from the narcotics branch nor from any other source whatever, if there are to be too rigid restrictions he or any other grower should be compensated to the extent I suggest.

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