New Zealand Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety Damien O’Connor has announced hemp seed foods will (finally) be legally available in the country soon.
It was back in April last year that the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation gave the nod to allowing hemp seeds to be sold as food. However, this also required legislation that currently made the sale seeds as a food illegal to be amended in both countries.
Australia did so by November 2017, but it’s taken another year for New Zealand to do the same.
Nevertheless, Minister O’Connor was pleased to deliver the news.
“This is great news for the local hemp industry, which has argued for decades that the production of hemp seed foods will stimulate regional economies, create jobs and generate $10-20 million of export revenue within 3 to 5 years,” he said.
As in Australia, hulled (shelled), non-viable seeds and their products will be now be viewed as just another type of edible seed in New Zealand. However, the use of wording on product labeling such as ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’ and images or representation of any part of the cannabis plant will not be permitted (which is the same in Australia).
The regulatory changes to NZ’s Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015 come into force on 12 November.
It’s important to note that these changes relate to seeds only – leaves and flowers are not included, and to possess whole seeds will still require a licence from the Ministry of Health.
A detailed guide to labelling food containing hemp seeds is currently being developed and will be published by New Zealand Food Safety by November 12.
Australia and New Zealand were the last two countries in the world to lift bans on hemp seed foods, however, hemp seed oil (not to be confused with cannabis oil) has been permitted in NZ for many years.
In the land of the long white cloud, industrial hemp is defined as varieties of Cannabis sativa with a tetrahydrocannabinol content generally below 0.35 percent – and the seeds would have even less than that.