Masters Thesis

Industrial and nutritional hemp In Manitoba: A case study exploring stakeholder strategies and legitimacy

Hemp is an ancient crop that has supported civilizations for millennia. Industrial hemp refers to the non-psychotropic varieties of Cannabis sativa L. This crop is used in numerous goods and industrial applications, such as nutritional food and oil, building materials, and body care products. In Canada, hemp is bred to have no psychotropic value. Due to years of Cannabis stigma, this crop has been perceived as a controversial issue. Canada’s decision to re-legalize hemp cultivation was pivotal for legitimizing and developing hemp as a viable agricultural crop in North America. Organizations in Manitoba pioneered a unique industry based initially on hemp seed. Over the years, stakeholders met challenges through industry collaboration and adaptive strategies. Stakeholder organization such as hemp-based cooperatives and trade alliances are examples of strategies. More than business entrepreneurship was needed to advance this industry. Social movement theory and framing explain the development of the hemp industry in Manitoba. This explores stakeholder framing, resources, political opportunities, cognitive processes and legitimacy. Movement leadership and social entrepreneurship are also key concepts. Case study research was utilized in the capital city, Winnipeg, and rural communities. This work positioned Manitoba as a “case” taken from the North American hemp industry and movement. Methods included formal and informal interviews, document analysis, artifacts and participant observation. Interviews were conducted with representatives from cooperatives, trade alliances and hemp businesses in the food, oil and fibre sectors. Interviews were also held with provincial, Federal and municipal government officials. Stories from Manitoba illuminate the evolution of this growing industry. Stakeholder input explores the work behind reincorporating and legitimizing this crop into farmlands, including social and political arenas. Communities abroad can learn from Manitoba’s strategies that advanced a hemp movement and industry. This case study provides a tangible example of how a regulated, hemp industry can succeed in North America. Key Words: industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa L., Manitoba, hemp seed, legitimacy, Cannabis stigma, framing, strategy, hemp movement, industry collaboration, case study, social entrepreneurship, social movement theory: resources, political opportunity, cognitive processes, movement leadership