Industrial hemp bill tabled in parliament

Government is keen on achieving its target of providing 50,000 jobs by 2025. With thousands already created in the housing, construction, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, among others, many more will become available soon with the development of the industrial hemp industry.

The government on Tuesday took the development of that industry one step closer to realisation, with the presentation of the Industrial Hemp Bill in the National Assembly.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, presented the bill in the House, which will be another critical policy of the administration that transforms the lives of Guyanese.

Minister Mustapha said the passage of the bill will, “provide for the cultivating and manufacturing of industrial hemp and hemp related products; to provide for the conducting of research and industrial hemp or any other activity concerning or relating to industrial hemp.”

The bill also proposes the establishment of the Guyana Industrial Hemp Regulatory Authority, which will be the governing body of the hemp industry.

Hemp is often confused with marijuana because it is a member of the cannabis family, but it has significantly lower tetrahydrocannabinol than marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gives users the ‘high feeling’.

However, someone were to consume hemp, it would not affect their mind or body due to the lower level of tetrahydrocannabinol, research states.

Instead, hemp has proven to be a super plant, responsible for the creation of a myriad of products. Some of the products derived from hemp include; rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Centre, hemp is rich in protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins and it protects the brain, boosts heart health, reduces inflammation, improves skin conditions and relieves rheumatoid arthritis.

The Global Industrial Hemp Markets Report 2021-2028, published by GlobeNewswire in November 2021, states that the global industrial hemp market size is expected to reach US$12.01 billion by 2028 and to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 16.2 percent from 2021 to 2028.

This is one of the reasons Government is keen on opening a hemp industry.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, in March expressed optimism that Guyana can develop a viable hemp industry.

“The hemp industry is not only about hemp production, but it is about having the processing and value-added facilities here in Guyana and these are industries that can generate jobs, these are industries that have high value return.”

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had announced earlier, that licences will be issued to farmers to cultivate hemp in Regions Six and Ten, following the passage of the legislation.