For me, the idea of selling hemp products doesn’t go back to yesterday. In fact, it’s been exactly 25 years since the germ of this idea was placed in my mind. If you read the article on HEMP BC, then you know how I discovered hemp. To sum up, it was during a visit to this store in Vancouver that hemp appeared to me as the treasure it is.
When I returned to the east coast of our country, I set out to find out more. The Internet, which at that time was not as big as it is today, nevertheless had great resources… It is also by reading the book: The Emperor Wears No Clothes, written by the American activist Jack Herer, that my knowledge grew even more.
Very early on, I learned about the fabulous potential of hemp to make all kinds of products. I admit, at the beginning, I believed that this plant was miraculous and that it would save the planet by offering a greener parallel economy and focused on sustainable development (at that time, we were not yet talking about economic decline). A little idealistic, and deeply utopian, the potential of hemp was so obvious to me that I did not understand that people did not immediately welcome this plant.
However, I became disillusioned fairly quickly when I was told not to show my business card by a lawyer friend who mainly thought about my wellness. You should know that in 1995, hemp was completely illegal. It was illegal to grow it, just like marijuana. It was also illegal to possess it, and despite the fact that industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, someone who had it could be charged with possession of narcotic and someone who sold it could be charged of Narcotic TRAFFIC.
First Caneve business card, made somewhere around 1995!
Fortunately, this absurd law was struck down by Jean Chrétien’s government in 1998 with the adoption of the Industrial Hemp Regulations in the wake of the overhaul of the narcotics law.
However, the fact remains that in 1995, in eastern Canada, I was perceived as an extraterrestrial with my ideas of reintroducing industrial hemp into our economy! So convinced of the correctness of my ideas and the absurdity of the law, I decided to surrender myself to the police by bringing a few samples of my products which, back then, I had brought from western Canada and the United States. I was, at the time, ready to be arrested and my goal was, if that were to happen, to bring my case before the highest courts in the country and to challenge the law itself, claiming that it violated the guaranteed rights and freedoms by the Canadian constitution.
This visit to the police station was most instructive. First, I was allowed to leave without charges because the police already knew that the products presented did not pose any threat to public safety. But I also learned that many police officers, like much of the population, did not know the difference between the varieties of hemp. Anyway, I had work to do!
More confident, I then placed my first orders in stores in Winnipeg and Nelson in British Columbia. Small wallets, soaps, bags and rope were my first inventory. A friend had left me a glass counter in his record store and this is how Caneve was born!