The ridiculous ban on industrial hemp based food products in Australia may finally soon be a thing of the past.
While low THC hemp is banned in food in Australia, opium poppy seeds can be purchased at just about any supermarket.
This is in place even though seeds from industrial hemp plants have such low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – a psychoactive compound) that there is simply no possibility of using it as a recreational drug.
The battle for hemp foods in Australia has been going on for years. Back In 2002, ministers responsible for food regulation tossed out a proposed change to the Code to permit foods derived from hemp.
However, the battle may nearly be won.
A recent meeting of Australian and New Zealand health ministers sought to accelerate working towards lifting the ban.
“Allowing the use of low-THC hemp in food products has potential to open new markets for our agriculture industry, strengthening the economy and creating jobs,” said Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson.
“The Liberal Government is committed to the industry and has taken action to implement significant reforms that will make it easier for our farmers to grow industrial hemp, including the introduction of special purpose legislation for the cultivation and supply of industrial hemp for commercial production and the extension of licencing from one to five years.”
Unfortunately, there is a bottleneck. Completion of clinical human consumption trials has been delayed from March 2016 to later in the year; the date yet to be announced. Some view the trials as unnecessary, but regardless; they must be completed.
Aside from the clinical trials, a couple of other concerns still remain for some stakeholders in the process. One is the possibly unfounded fear of marketing of hemp in food may “send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of cannabis.”
The other thorny issue is law enforcement agencies require a robust study on the impacts for road side testing according to an Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation Communiqué dated 20 November 2015.
In 2012, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.) found low THC hemp foods are safe for consumption and had no psychoactive properties
Minister Ferguson says the reversing of Federal prohibition on hemp foods in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code will see Tasmanian farmers well situated to capitalise on new markets.