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Marijuana could be a cash crop in Saskatchewan

Marijuana could be a cash crop in Saskatchewan

Ag minister Lyle Stewart wants farmers to have the chance to grow the crop like any other

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Once marijuana becomes legal in Canada in July, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Agriculture wants the crop to be treated like peas, lentils and other crops in the province.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, cannabis sativa. But any cannabis in Canada with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level above 0.3 per cent is considered marijuana.

Saskatchewan producers grew more than 37,000 acres of hemp in 2015, according to the Government of Saskatchewan.

Hemp is already part of some crop rotations. And parts of the crop are used for clothing, cooking and building materials.

The federal government will regulate production and provide licenses only to greenhouses to produce marijuana.

But if the demand calls for it, marijuana operations may have to move outdoors.

“I don’t know if it will ever happen,” Stewart told 620 CKRM Monday “But I guess it’s going to depend on what the demand is for (marijuana), if it can be met in greenhouse situations, that will be the way they want to go first because it’s easier to provide the security.”

Given the opportunity, Saskatchewan growers would produce marijuana in an open-field environment.

Security is the number one concern for a marijuana crop. If there’s a market for it and it’s a profitable venture, however, farmers will consider it, according to Todd Lewis, president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS).

Todd Lewis

“There’s always conversations going on and I think Saskatchewan’s cropping practices are pretty adaptive. If there was a marketing opportunity and money to be made, producers would be interested in growing (marijuana),” he told Monday. “As we go through the (legalization) process, it’s going to take a while to get there.”