Parliamentary Committee Report Backs Australian Hemp

Hemp and Australian agriculture

An Australian Parliament Agriculture and Water Resources Committee report released last month supports removing barriers faced by the nation’s hemp sector.

The Committee’s inquiry looked at how Australia’s agriculture sector could reach a target set by the National Farmers’ Federation of a farmgate value of $100 billion by 2030. While ambitious, the committee said it was achievable. A crop that could help get Australia over the line is hemp.

Among the recommendations made by the Committee was the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment should review regulations applying to the growing and processing of “low-THC Industrial Hemp”.

The term “low-THC industrial hemp” is like saying wet water. By legal definition, industrial hemp is low-THC – but anyway.

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Included in the recommendation was a suggested review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of industrial hemp product scheduling. That’s already happened to some degree, with the TGA last month issuing its final decision on low-dose CBD, allowing certain cannabidiol products to be downscheduled from Schedule 4 to Schedule 3 and therefore making them available without prescription. This will come into effect from February 1 this year, but it’s unlikely products will be available straight away as they’ll first need to be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

The Committee’s hemp recommendation also included investigating how “any barriers restricting producers from accessing the full value of the hemp plant including the food, fibre, and nutraceuticals can be overcome”.

The report notes feedback from a number of industry stakeholders, including a submission from the Hemp Association of Tasmania, which called for:

“delisting of Cannabis Sativa with THC of less than 1 per cent from the Narcotics and Poison Acts to allow for the commercial sale of all industrial hemp products from the entire plant.”

The Labor members of the Committee want to see the hemp related recommendation go much further.

Rather than “review the regulations” we call upon the Government to strip away all remaining regulatory barriers that prevent low-THC hemp from assertively competing on the world stage,” the report states. “We note that Australia’s hemp industry is worth $10m annually whereas Canada’s is around $1b. Our farmers are ready. It’s time to back them in (sic) and let them get on with it.”

The full report: “Growing Australia: Inquiry into growing Australian agriculture to $100 billion by 2030” can be viewed here.