Canadian hemp license numbers decline for third straight year

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Active Canadian hemp licenses declined for the third year in a row with all provinces or territories showing double-digit permit declines from 2022.

The number of hemp licenses has been declining in Canada since 2020, when it peaked at 1,269, according to new data from Health Canada.

At the end of 2023, there were 737 active hemp licenses throughout Canadian provinces and territories, a 26% drop from the previous year.

Ontario, the most-populous province in Canada, led the country in number of active hemp licenses with 176, accounting for nearly 24% of permits issued in 2023.

Some hemp licensees are permitted to conduct hemp cultivation and processing activities at multiple sites, which could encompass more than one province.

Alberta and Quebec trailed Ontario, with 19% and 16% of active hemp licenses, respectively.

More than half the provinces and territories reported few or no licenses, such as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, both of which had received no active licenses from Health Canada in 2023.

All provinces and territories in Canada experienced double-digit license declines in 2023, but some lost more than others.

License numbers in Manitoba and Quebec remained steadiest through 2023, with each experiencing a decline of about 12%, while British Columbia lost more than 50 licenses, or 34%.

The relatively steady licensing numbers in Manitoba could be attributed to the province's export relationship with the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Manitoba exported roughly $51 million in hempseed, hemp oil and other hemp-based exports in 2023.

Andrew Long can be reached at

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