Australia’s Victorian state government has been urged by iHemp Victoria to better legislate for industrial hemp production and manufacturing, which states procrastinating on the issue is hurting local communities.
iHemp Victoria’s president Darren Christie envisions a future where industrial hemp is pivotal in counterbalancing the early closure of the native timber logging industry.
Mr Christie suggests planting 5,000 hectares of industrial hemp this year would yield 50,000 tons of hemp chip and fibre. This could bridge the gap left by dwindling timber supply, provide a sustainable, alternative solution to meet growing demand, and help to preserve or create new jobs.
The industrial hemp industry needs to establish regulations, building standards, clear guidelines and policies to provide certainty to investors, manufacturers, and consumers. And the Victorian Government needs to get behind all this Mr Christie says; formally recognising the significance of industrial hemp.
“Once the government formally legislates for industrial hemp, it will spur economic growth, generate employment opportunities, and drive innovation,” states Mr. Christie. “Those in the industry are ready to go. We just need the government to do its part.”
A cross-chamber supported motion for a related inquiry was passed in the Victorian Parliament last Wednesday.
In 1998, Victoria became the first Australian State to pass legislation permitting the commercial production of industrial hemp
Seed used for sowing must be sourced from a low-THC cannabis crop with a THC level of 0.5 per cent or less. Only crops tested at 1 per cent THC or less may be harvested and processed for food and/or fibre. In terms of cannabinoids, a hemp licence issued by Agriculture Victoria does not permit the processing of leaves and flowering heads. Cannabinoids are most concentrated in the flowering heads of a cannabis plant and cannabinoid crops fall under the realm of the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control (ODC) under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967.
Back in 2019, Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture announced a forming of a taskforce to examine the challenges and opportunities the industry was facing. It appears taskforce is yet to deliver its final report, but an interim report was released in 2020. What the holdup is on the final document isn’t clear.
One of the recommendations in the interim report was to raise the THC threshold to 1 per cent to be in line with other states and territories, which was acted on.
Further information on industrial hemp in Victoria can be found here.