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Apr-28-2012 15:29printcomments

Soft Yet Durable - Local Fabric Production Could Help BC's Economy

More and more, hemp-fabric supporters in BC find allies in wanting to grow industrial hemp commercially.

Hemp dish towels
This is an example of woven dish towels (originally from France) and now available for viewing at:

(VICTORIA BC) - Industrial hemp has been with human civilization since before 7000 B.C. Fast forward to the middle ages and start of the Renaissance back to your high school lesson—you may remember a hippie history teacher telling you about Christopher Columbus making use of good old hemp for his ocean-going voyages.

Often quoted may have been Columbus' hemp-made sails and ship rigging or of course, there was the hemp paper recording highly contested and controversial expeditions.

Now mind you that class lesson would have been before modern-day anti racism activists demonized Columbus for being a raging colonialist and disease-infector!

But heck that aside, suffice to say that early history has spoken a positive tone when it comes to the benefits of industrial hemp.

Expansionism across the Atlantic led to European merchant mariners and the early settlers continuing to depend on hemp in a significant economic way. Moreover, American colonialists used hemp as a barter item as a form of money with which to trade.

As time went on however we know that tragically cotton plantations were introduced, to become the preferred, economic system to ‘grow the land’ using slave labour. It’s always been a bit of a mystery why America went with cotton instead of hemp—when agriculturally hemp matures extremely fast and yet cotton takes an entire season. It would take a seasoned historian to unpack this question (and that I am not) as we know the causes are wrapped up in the history of American slavery and the despicable nature of it all. Sociologically it’s not entirely clear why hemp production ceased. Fast forward to 2012.

Happily today, hemp's re-emergence is with us

Once again, the desire to plant large-scale hemp plantations is taking centre stage. Serious economic debate is circulating the hemp movement; amongst hemp enthusiasts, focusing on this fundamental question Will a hemp textile economy ever be on the horizon in British Columbia’s future?

To get up-to-date on the hemp-fabric angle of things (i.e. the intention of planting industrial hemp for textile use), the interview with Bill Finlley of Hemp & Company provides a basic summary of the general points informing the conversation (at least, in Victoria Canada).

The crux of the discussion has centered around—whether—the impetus to move on a development for hemp plantations could popularize to such an extent that hemp-industry support becomes the economic reboot that Canada needs. Thus inspiring a rethinking of the potential uses of our local resources.

More and more, hemp-fabric supporters in BC find allies in wanting to grow industrial hemp commercially. Why? Because there's...

Benefits of hemp fabric as a ‘distinctive economic initiative’

Hemp fabrics are a valuable and constructive resource in our society. They can be an attractive, ubiquitous and cost effective feature in daily life. The growing of hemp crop for conversion to fabric is useful to all.

A central public message is required for things to forward in a bigger way. It sounds something like this: Hemp fabric is a legitimate and ‘stand-alone’ product. So. Build the potential for industrial textile hemp plantations here in BC. Build the potential for fabric manufacturing in British Columbia through a momentum carrying the-needed public message. Build the potential for hemp-fabric factories in BC by talking to people about the need for innovation locally around industrial fabric hemp.

Identifying the stumbling blocks

Currently it is economically ‘constraining’ for wholesalers to import hemp fabric to any large extent. Store may only carry a few hemp fabric rolls whilst carrying dozens of cotton and polyester.

Equally for ordinary people there are economic hurdles to purchasing wholesale hemp fabric, here in BC, for the purpose of manufacture/local design work since it basically remains a speciality item at this time.

For a retail customer and/or local ‘seamstress’ to purchase hemp fabric, at present it costs upward of $16 a/yard. Wholesale-hemp fabric is also not readily available.

This is because the demand for hemp fabric is not well-documented. Many people like hemp-fabric made clothing when they see it. For instance, Hemp block UV Rays- blocks more than 50% more UV rays than regular cotton fabrics. But many other people are not aware of its benefits. They need to be!

Is it just a matter of societal and government impetus that's required?

Tearing down the bureaucratic wall

You might think there's nothing stopping us. Well, actually—there is. And this is something we need to do something about.

In Canada, you have to have control over ten acres of land and have enlightened farmers adept in managing industrial hemp for textile-use to make an agro-revolution truly happen.

Health Canada needs to inundated with requests to start plantations. Sounds simple? As you clearly see, it ain't.

It's time we #occupy Health Canada to pressure them to change their 10 acre policy.

Getting to the root of the problem

Researching the reasons why Canada has not moved to grow industrial hemp for fabric-use (in its own country) it's difficult to pinpoint in any concrete and convincing way why this couldn’t be done.

…Other than a combination of laziness, out-sourcing-everything prevailing philosophy combined with ‘Monsanto-esque’ poverty-of-thinking around the value of sustainable local AGRO initiatives which by and large seem be regularly targeted by vested interest over-reliant on traditional monoculture!

And—(it doesn’t stop there, folks) …there’s the characteristically Canadian anti-manufacturing climate and the entire obstructionist reasoning that goes along with why we can’t 'make' anything here at home. Then there’s North American interest at play—the US hegemonic view of agriculture affecting Canadian cultural the dynamics surrounding the cotton industry, synthetic industry; drug industry. It goes on an on.

The point being that there’s a failure, in Canada to develop a self-sustaining market for hemp fabric.

Nobody has even asked the question (except for our very own Andrew Brown: Editor) why industrial hemp plantations couldn’t be subsidized in the same way as, say, the corn industry. It’s a darn good question.

Health Canada needs some heat. Here’s how to move forward. It is entirely possible and appropriate to enjoy the benefits of hemp products, as has been shown by government-funded community studies conducted in BC.

Who’s done it right—already...

Please visit‘s ‘Agriculture’ tab for more information and download the studies. This major project is the key template—that communities interested in considering broad-scale plantation developments—need to follow to be be successful in launching large scale hemp initiatives.


The District of 100 Mile House, in BC, has moved on hemp plantations—that is, hemp for use in the, construction industry. Their funded researchers investigated whether to go with food, fabric or construction products and they decided on the latter because of the needs in their specific region i.e. addressing suffering forestry industry jobs and the need for innovation in building materials to boost their local economy and community.

Their initiative (which is now a full-scale development including plans for a manufacturing facility for construction products) illustrates there is broad-based support for growing industrial hemp plantations and manufacturing in BC. Already happening.

OK, so what now?

In terms of the debate on 'fabric' manufacturing—no one disputes that even though little or no government money R&D has gone into evaluating the merit for hemp-production plantation for textiles there ARE investors waiting in the wings willing to support fabric manufacturing in BC. This is where things stand now.

It’s in the hands of the public

British Columbia should not be deprived of the legitimate uses of industrial hemp for textile-use. Talk to your politicians! It is entirely possible and appropriate to enjoy the benefits of hemp products, as has been shown by

There is so much scope for everybody to wear hemp clothes and/or use hemp-textile related products. There’s economic and practical potential. Failure to utilize the healthy and sustainable resources available on this planet of which hemp is decidedly a great resource is precisely the reason why our earth and economy spin out of balance in the 21st century.

Tell Health Canada you want to Canada to grow industral hemp large-scale and balance the planet. Seize investor interest.


In the effort of unashamed full disclosure this writer has designed and sewn— 5 samples made of hemp fabric so people can see how nice the fabric really is...These are covers which can be used to cover your Kindle, or your Tablet and/or your Ipad.

Items are c/o (c) HempDeeDee! 2012 There a 3+ sizes depending on your preference. Here is a quick video of the sample designs, etc.

Designer can be reached at has set the bar: These plantations are designed for construction-use hemp products. Now… we need to grow similar plantations for hemp textile use. Join the movement. ----------------------------- An earlier version of this article appears in Cannabis Digest


Diane Walsh, MA, is an investigative journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. She contributes to new media outlets, newspapers which by some miracle haven't gone under, and magazines in the US, Canada and Europe. Diane became acquainted with the team during a recent speaking tour that included Canada. She is a welcome addition to our lineup of truth-bound thoughtful and extremely talented writers.

For more information on specific publications and to reach Diane directly, please visit:

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stephen April 28, 2012 4:27 pm (Pacific time)

this is one of my many questions and angers. Why is hemp illegal? Ok, they have one excuse, they dont have the resources to make sure its hemp and not marijuana..Come on, give me a break...They have the resources to monitor our emails and phone calls, they have the resources to feel up old women and children at the airport and bus stations, they have the resources to bomb countries into oblivion for no reason etc etc etc..There is NO excuse for hemp being illegal except that the corporations do not want it to be. Period. Support Ron Paul. Quit being a slave. This is not about marijuana, its about a gosh darn plant that could help our economy. Ya cant get high on it, and its only worth is fabric. Think about it, why is a plant that makes a fabric illegal?

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