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Hemp plant smokin' idea

Hank Daniszewski, The London Free Press - Canada, 4th October 2005

A new hemp-processing plant in Manitoba should be a boost to the fledgling industry, says the head of a hemp business near Delaware.

"Demand is outstripping supply, so having additional capacity is positive for the whole industry," said Geoff Kime, president of Hempline Inc.

Kime said the spiralling cost of crude oil could give the Canadian hemp processing industry a long-awaited breakthrough. He said natural fibres like hemp are now competitive with petroleum-based fibre products.

"The rising price of oil has opened up the demand for hemp and flax substantially," he said.

A co-op of about 50 hemp growers is planning to construct a $14-million plant near Dauphin, Man., with the help of $6 million in federal and provincial funding. The group is still seeking $3.5 million in private investment.

Hemp fibres have a variety of uses, including rope, clothing, and insulation while the seeds can be turned into oil, food products and cosmetics. Hemp is genetically related to marijuana but cannot be used as a drug because it has almost no THC, the active ingredient.

Hempline, founded in 1994, processes fibres used in composite materials used for construction, insulation and auto parts. The company also produces hemp chips used for animal bedding.

Kime said Hempline did not contract any hemp from local farms last year, relying on existing supplies while concentrating on developing markets.

Kime said he is confident the economic conditions and rising oil prices will boost the hemp market in the coming year. He said large chemical companies have shown an interest in using hemp to create composite products.

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