Demystifying hemp and hemp textiles

Given its proximity to cannabis (marijuana) and its potential THC (psychotropic) content, hemp is currently not allowed to be grown freely in municipalities and community gardens in Quebec and Canada. It is governed by laws that impose restrictions. Any farmer wishing to grow it must follow clear guidelines and obtain authorization.

A little history

Hemp is indigenous to Canada. In other words, it grows naturally, without human intervention. Jacques Cartier wrote about it in his diary, and it was one of the first crops to be cultivated under Samuel de Champlain.

Both hemp and cannabis were criminalized in 1923. Note that hemp and cannabis are essentially the same plant. It's their production method and THC content that give them different names.


In the 1980s, the agricultural and processing sectors became increasingly interested in growing hemp for its employment potential and the versatility of its fiber. Then, research showed that industrial hemp could be grown effectively in Canada, as a plant distinct from cannabis. Health Canada then decided to amend the laws restricting the cultivation of industrial hemp, and to allow the agricultural and processing sectors to grow and exploit industrial hemp in a controlled manner. In 1998, the first commercial hemp cultivation license was issued.

A complete plant

This plant with its many virtues and uses should perhaps be grown like any other vegetable in the garden. It's a renewable, hardy plant that can meet a number of environmental and economic constraints.

Hemp's most exploited field in Canada is food. Its seed is a nutrient-rich food, rich in proteins and essential fatty acids. Next come body care (extraction and use of its oil in cosmetics) and housing, thanks to its insulating properties.

The two areas of interest for Eco Loco are, of course, textiles and plastics, which in this case are closely linked.


textile chanvre

Hemp is a fast-growing plant (11 weeks) that requires little water and needs no pesticides to grow well, as it is highly competitive with weeds. Here in Canada, it grows like weeds in many regions. Thanks to its plant origin, its fiber is biodegradable.

The textile produced by hemp is highly resistant, hypoallergenic and non-irritating to the skin. It also becomes softer and more supple with use. Produced from the fiber that covers the upper, hemp textile is breathable and antimicrobial. It is excellent for making all kinds of clothing, carpets, bedding, shoes, towels and more.

For the time being, we consider hemp to be the most environmentally ecological fabric available. However, the textile used in the hemp garments we carry comes from overseas. Canadian expertise in this area remains to be developed, in addition to the need to relax regulations. Perhaps the new avenues in cannabis legislation will make this possible. Then we'd have access to a highly ecological textile that's also local!


It's still an uncommon use, but several companies have set themselves the task of developing a plastic made from hemp (not petroleum!). The product possibilities are numerous, and what could be possible and highly interesting is to produce a hemp-based polyester. It's completely biodegradable and renewable.

For more information, visit Chanvre Québec, Ici Radio Canada and Ressource efficient agricultural production.

Ecologically yours,



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