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Bob Erb wants to see industrial hemp production in Terrace

Bob Erb wants Terrace to become a hemp-growing hub. - Staff photo
Bob Erb wants Terrace to become a hemp-growing hub.
— image credit: Staff photo

The area's second annual large scale pro marijuana legalization rally here April 20 was also the occasion for education on the benefits of industrial hemp production, says its sponsor.

Lottery winner Bob Erb said a transition to large-scale hemp growing and subsequent conversion of that hemp into paper and material for clothing and other uses could have saved the region from the long-term effects of the collapse of the forest industry here in the late 1990s.

“Politicians, regardless of party, have been saying for the nearly 40 years I’ve been here that we need another industry but no one has actually done that,” said Erb, speaking after the rally. “We had logging and when that went into a tailspin for 15-20 years, everyone suffered.”

But there is a rich history of farming in Terrace, which would be worth tapping into, he said.

“We could go back to the days when this region grew fruit and vegetables and sent them out to market,” he said.

And hemp would make a great crop, he said.

“Hemp grows everywhere and it is renewable every year,” he said. “That’s an industry we should pursue.”

Hemp strands can even be used to make a product similar to plywood and traditional oriented strand board, Erb added.

The 4-20 rally – the name originates with a group of California youth who gathered to smoke marijuana at 4:20 p.m. each day but which has since evolved to hold marijuana legalization events across North America each April 20 – was held on the steps of the provincial courthouse.

Erb estimated that more than 300 people attended, down approximately 100 people from the year before.

Speakers included Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin who also spoke at the 2013 rally here.

“We had a minute of silence at 4:19 p.m. to remember the victims of marijuana prohibition and at 4:20 p.m. there were acts of peaceful civil disobedience,” said Erb. The latter involved people lighting up marijuana cigarettes.

He contrasted Vancouver’s large 4-20 rally, described as peaceful and without damage or arrests, with the city’s alcohol-fueled Stanley Cup riot of 2011 which caused millions of dollars in damage and resulted in numerous arrests and convictions.

A barbecue provided by M&M Meats was also the occasion to raise money for Hailey Pettit, a local girl undergoing treatment for leukemia in Vancouver and for You’ll Be There,  in which grad dresses are donated or purchased for those who otherwise could not afford one.

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