By Steve Elliott
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents at the Canadian border on Sunday found marijuana on one of Justin Bieber's tour buses as it crossed into Detroit from Windsor, Canada, but the teen pop sensation wasn't on the bus at the time.
The bus was stopped as it attempted to enter the United States on the Ambassador Bridge when a police dog alerted authorities to the presence of "drugs," CBP spokesman Ken Hammond confirmed, reports Ann Zaniewski at the Detroit Free Press. Customs officers found and seized a small, personal-use amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to Hammond.
The bus driver was issued a civil citation, Hammond said. The bus and its passengers were then released.
The 19-year-old singer was in another vehicle, and was able to perform later that night at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
A few months before, Bieber was in Sweden when cops discovered a small amount of marijuana and a stun gun aboard one of his tour buses.
(Photo: A.V. Club)
The federal government of the United States has approved a prisoner transfer application for self-styled Prince of Pot Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana seed merchant serving a five-year sentence for mailing seeds to the U.S.
The transfer must also be signed off upon by Canadian authorities before Emery can return to Canada, according to Cannabis Culture.
Emery's lawyer confirmed to his wife Jodie that American authorities have approved his transfer.
Canadian authorities have, so far, not commented.
By Steve Elliott
The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries launched its Certification Program on Thursday, June 20. Industry observers characterized it as a survival move, since Health Canada's latest medical marijuana regulations bypass dispensaries for a mail-order only model.
The announcement coincides with the publication of Health Canada's federal Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations in the Canada Gazette.
"The CAMCD Certification Program prioritizes quality patient care, due diligence, and social responsibility," said Adam Greenblatt, CAMCD president. "Our goal is to help medical cannabis dispensaries integrate into the healthcare system and adapt to shifts in the industry."
Medical marijuana dispensaries, also known as compassion clubs, have been operating in Canada since 1996. They serve about 40,000 patients. Dispensaries supply a wide variety of medical cannabis products and derivatives, and provide support around dosing, effective use, and harm reduction.
Despite recommendations from many stakeholders to include community based dispensaries in the new regulations, Health Canada has opted for a mail-order only distribution system.
"This will obstruct reasonable access to medical cannabis, and could result in the disruption of care for tens of thousands of Canadians," Greenblatt said. "Dispensaries have been filling these gaps for over a decade, and our Certification Program will affirm the important role dispensaries play in the provision of medical cannabis."
By Steve Elliott
Canada's medical marijuana program will ban the legal cultivation of cannabis by patients next year, and will also shut down its own production, leaving supplies solely to licensed growers in the private sector.
More than 30,000 patients are legally authorized by Health Canada to use marijuana, reports Rod Nickel of Reuters. Canada back in 2001 became the first country to institute a national medical marijuana program, allowing seriously ill patients to grow and use their own medicinal cannabis.
Canada's medical marijuana program also included a government-run cultivation center in an old zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, although patients compalined the quality of that cannabis was subpar.
"There's far too much potential and actual abuse within the current scheme," claimed Staff Inspector Randy Franks of the Toronto Police Service drug squad. Franks said that police don't have access to the addresses of approved grow sites in private homes.
"These home-grown operations are able to produce far more than they need and they have to do something with it, so they sell it mainstream," Franks claimed, thoughtlessly painting all medical marijuana patients as outlaws.
The new rules became effective on Monday -- but the old rules will run concurrently until March 31, 2014, to allow the Canadian government time to license new growers, according to Jeannine Ritchot, Health Canada's director of medical marijuana regulatory reform.
By Steve Elliott
Marc Emery, also known as the Prince of Pot, has been put into solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Emery is serving a five-year sentence for mailing marijuana seeds to the United States from his business in Vancouver, British Columbia, reports Dana Larsen at the Vancouver Sun. He has about 14 months to go on on his sentence.
Emery writes a blog from prison, and in March, reportedly with permission, had some photos taken of his band practicing in the prison's music room. In the photo accompanying this article, Marc is seen with the prison band, which performs for other inmates.
Marc's wife Jodie Emery said that prison authorities were unhappy with the photos of Emery and the band. She reportedly said the investigation was to see if Marc had a cellphone to take the band photos. Emery's bandmates have reportedly been placed in solitary confinement, as well.
Emery is reportedly forced to wear a pair of 4XL shorts with string tied around his waist to hold them up, and has only one pair of socks with enormous holes in them, according to his wife. "I cried when I saw him, and he did too," Jodie told the Sun.
Prisoners in solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Complex are locked down inside their cells for 23 hours a day.
By Bryan Labby, CBC News
Many Alberta farmers have taken to hemp to round out their crops and some say they're making a tidy profit.
According to a recent study done by Alberta Agriculture, farmers in the province seeded the most hemp in all of Canada at 6,434 hectares last year.
The preliminary estimate for this year is 8,000 hectares.
"As long as we keep making money we'll keep growing it," says Will Van Roessel.
The Bow Island-area farmer is about to harvest hemp for the third straight year.
He's been contracted to grow the hemp for its seeds, which could be processed into a wide range of products including oil, flour, shampoo and wood sealant. Van Roessel says he's expecting to make three times the amount he would get for wheat.
As for the overwhelming smell from the acres and acres of hemp, Van Roessel says he doesn't mind.
"Well some people don't like it at all. I quite enjoy the smell, so it's fine with me," he said.
New market needed
By Angela Brown, Portage la Prairie News
Hemp Oil Canada Inc., which is based in Manitoba, announced this week that it is the first in the world to gain international food safety accreditation for hemp food.
"This is good news for Hemp Oil Canada and the hemp industry as a whole," said Alphonsus Utioh, product development manager with Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, "because it would allow this company to be able to access more markets for companies that require hemp suppliers with this accreditation."
The FDC makes a number of hemp products itself and encourages the promotion for the hemp industry.
"The Food Development Centre has worked with the hemp industry for quite some time now," said Utioh. "We have worked with the industry to produce the various products."
The Food Development Centre is currently using hemp product in the development of muesli cereal mix, which will be coming out into the market sometime in the future.
As well, the FDC has been using hemp for the development of its nutrition bars.
"Hemp is known for its Omega-3 and Omega-6 — for the Essential Fatty Acids," said Utioh. "The hemp protein also has high digestibility value."
Utioh explained with Hemp Oil Canada receiving International food safety accreditation it will encourage more companies to develop product with hemp.
By Susan Mcguire, The Gazette
Photograph by William Eaves, Jr.
Hemp breakfast cereal, hemp clothing, hemp hand cream - all available in perfectly respectable stores. Is this the same hemp that is illegal to grow in Canada? No, not at all.
These products come from what is called industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L), a distant cousin of the marijuana plant. Both are part of a diverse plant species of more than 500 varieties that includes the hops used to make beer.
Farmers have been cultivating industrial hemp for 10,000 years, starting in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and in China's Yellow River Valley. For centuries, people used hemp fibre to make clothes, rope, sails and paper; they stewed, roasted and milled the grain for food; and used the oil for cosmetics, lighting, paints and varnishes.
In the 1660s and 1670s, Jean Talon encouraged the farmers of New France to grow hemp by giving them free seed, which they had to plant immediately and replace with seed from their next year's crop. So important was hemp that he confiscated all the thread in the colony and gave it back only in return for hemp. Women needed thread, and he knew that would put pressure on their husbands to grow the crop. However, production collapsed when Talon went back to France.
Will help spur growth for Manitoba Harvest
By Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press
MANITOBA Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils has landed another round of venture-capital funding to help finance growth and strengthen its supply chain.
No totals were disclosed in the latest round of financing from Calgary-based Avrio Ventures and White Road Investments from Emeryville, Calif., but Manitoba Harvest CEO Mike Fata said it's a multimillion-dollar investment.
"This investment is to help fuel our growth," he said. "We have been growing by leaps and bounds in Canada and the U.S."
The company has been averaging 40 to 50 per cent annual growth and Fata said sales in the first five weeks of its current fiscal year have doubled last year's.
Founded in 1998, the company has a blossoming portfolio of products, from hemp beverages and hemp protein to powders, oil, butter and Hemp Hearts.
It's also expanding its distribution channel.
Before, Manitoba Harvest products were predominantly found in natural-foods stores. But now they're in Safeway and other grocery stores -- in the general produce section at that, not just the health-foods section -- as well as more than 60 Costco stores in Canada.
By Carole Rooney, 100 Mile House Free Press
100 Mile House Industrial Hemp Producer's Group chair Dave Zirnhelt recently provided a project update.
The Zirnhelt Timber Frames construction company, founded and owned by his sons, recently finished eight, four- by eight-foot industrial hemp panels.
The local project shares information with the University of Manitoba, and professor Kris Dick recently came out to observe the construction and install sensors to monitor the drying process, Zirnhelt explains.
That performance data is now electronically linked to transmit to the university, he adds.
An ongoing challenge that remains and prevents moving forward significantly from here, Zirnhelt says, is tying down somebody in the market who will agree to put up funds for product development.
"Now, it's back to mostly the private sector to make the business opportunities work. I think one of the weaknesses is we thought it was something anybody and everybody could do."
These previously-unknown obstacles include irrigation, likely required for drier years; good soils, or otherwise high input costs; and finding places or equipment that can process the tough hemp fibre. All of these problems are hindered by the market weakness, Zirnhelt explains.
Canada is investing in innovation that will help develop new bio-composites derived from hemp fibers.
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
SASKATCHEWAN - Members of Parliament have pledged funding for the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) to study hemp fibers with the goal of making composites that perform better than fiberglass and plastic.
"Finding new and innovative uses for our flax and hemp will greatly benefit farmers and the economy in Western Canada," said MP Bruinooge. "This investment will enable farmers to adapt their growth and harvesting regimes to optimize fibre performance, increasing the demand for their crops and resulting in increased profitability."
The investment through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) is designed to study the sub-molecular structure of hemp fibers.
"This exciting collaboration between the CIC and our world-class Canadian synchrotron facility will provide our local and national biomass industries with a key competitive edge in a growing international marketplace," says CIC Manager of Product Innovation Simon Potter. "The information we generate with the Canadian Light Source will support the high penetration of agricultural fibers into building materials and composites for automotive and aerospace products."
By Rita Trichur, Globe and Mail
Photo by John Woods, Globe and Mail
Hemp is fast becoming a staple of daytime TV as Oprah, Dr. Oz and others extol the health virtues of hemp oil, protein powders and pasta. At the same time, industrial interests tout it as a potential base for products ranging from textiles to car parts. As a result, demand is surging in the United States, Germany and Japan.
But American farmers are prohibited from growing hemp. That leaves farmers in Canada – where it's been a legal crop since 1998 – free to tap the growing U.S. interest in hemp-based products.
First, though, they must navigate the shifting sands of public opinion – or, as one Alberta report called it, "the snicker factor."
According to an Alberta Agriculture Department report on industrial hemp production in Canada, the plant's cultivation evokes chuckles "largely because of its hippy-dippy image and close association with marijuana, its consciousness-altering cousin."
Nevertheless, this is serious stuff. The North American market for industrial hemp – which has only a minuscule amount of the chemical that gives marijuana its punch – is booming.
For centuries, hemp had been ubiquitous in global commerce – from paper making to the rope used on sailing vessels – until synthetic fibres usurped its naval role and global anti-drug sentiment put paid to the rest.
By Gabrielle Giroday, Winnepeg Free Press
Bet you never thought a bus part might be made with hemp, canola and flax.
But Helena Marak, Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council program coordinator, sees possibilities for the products you might be more used to encountering on the shelves of your local health-food store.
Marak stood Saturday morning with a brown University of Manitoba prototype at the Agriculture in the City event at The Forks.
"People have really found this interesting. They marvel at the strength of it. It's really, really strong, it's durable and, of course, it's made with natural fibres that are grown right here in Manitoba, so that's a big bonus," said Marak.
She said hemp fibres left over from making food products can be used for other purposes, like products for the transportation or aerospace industry such as car door panels.
The three-day event is dedicated to educating the public about farmers, agriculture science and research, and uses for Manitoba crops beyond the table.
Event organizer Reg Sims said it started in 2003 and is expected to draw thousands of people.
"At one time, everybody in the city had an uncle or a grandparent that lived on a farm. They'd go to the farm, they knew their milk came from cows, their hamburgers came from cows," said Sims. He said he believes farmers are "the greatest stewards of our land."
"Agriculture is a lot more than food," he said.
By Government of Alberta, Agriculture and Rural Development
Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The species was banned in North America in late 1930s because its leaves and flowers contained a hallucinogenic drug known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It was banned internationally in 1961 under the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Hemp does suffer from the “snicker factor”, largely because of its hippy-dippy image and close association with marijuana, its conscious-altering cousin.
By Country Guide staff
Manitoba's provincial government has pledged $20 million over the next 10 years to support development and manufacturing of ag- and forestry-based bioproducts.
The new Manitoba Bio-products Strategy was announced Thursday at Riverton in the province's Interlake region, where a local firm, Erosion Control Blankets, makes erosion-suppression products from wheat straw.
The province's farms and forests yield a "valuable supply" of biomass every year, Premier Greg Selinger said in a release, noting the biomass' use in biofuels, chemical processing and other materials.
"Research and development in Manitoba is already turning hemp, flax and wheat byproducts into paper, insulation, roofing tiles, biodegradable food packaging and ultra-lightweight components for aerospace and transportation sectors," the government said.
Out of the $20 million pledged, the province for 2011 has budgeted "more than $4 million in project funding available to research institutions and entrepreneurs working on developing innovative bio-products," Selinger said.