Hemp A Hit In Ontario

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Proponents say that hemp can be used for everything  from making clothing, to rope, to paper…even automotive parts. Now, a Delaware, Ontario-based company called Hempline Inc. has added bedding for horses to that extensive list. They claim their HempChips bedding, manufactured from the core of the hemp stalk, has excellent absorbency (superior to both straw and shavings), is virtually dust-free, absorbs ammonia fumes (thus reducing stable odor), is easy to work with, and doesn’t appeal to equine taste buds. On top of this, hemp bedding decomposes rapidly, turning your manure pile into quality compost.






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 CRAIG LEE PHOTO
Hemp was a leading North American cash crop in the early 20th century, and it is making a comeback in time for the new millenium.

Hemp is a crop with a checkered history; it was one of the first cash crops grown in North America, but it has suffered through its kinship with another plant, cannabis (marijuana). Physically, the two plant species are very similar, but there’s an important difference—hemp contains almost no THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gives cannabis smokers a chemical high. Hempline president Geofrey Kime likens the situation to two entirely different breeds of horse—to an outsider they might look the same, but to a horse person, they are worlds apart.

Nonetheless, the growing of commercial hemp has been outlawed for more than 60 years in Canada, through a sort of “guilt by association.” That unfortunate circumstance was overturned in March of 1998, when former tobacco growers in Ontario successfully lobbied to make hemp a legal option for their livelihood. Growing hemp now is government-regulated. Farmers have to obtain a license, and they only are allowed to grow certain approved varieties, but hemp is already well on its way to re-establishing itself as a useful cash crop.


Kime notes that some enterprising individuals have tried to scavenge hemp leaves from local fields for (um) recreational purposes, but they never do it more than once. “You can’t get high smoking it; you just get sick!” he says

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Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She’s written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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