South Australian Industrial Hemp Draft Regulations Released

Industrial hemp in South Australia
Image: MarkusHagenlocher, CC BY-SA 3.0

Draft regulations for the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in South Australia were released on Monday, and public feedback on the document has been invited.

As in most western nations, the regulations will be quite strict.

Under the rules, only persons considered to be “fit and proper” will be able to hold licenses. This definition includes a requirement for licensees to have never been found guilty of any indictable or summary drug related offences.

It won’t be just an applicant’s history that will be investigated, but also the character, honesty and integrity of his/her associates and relatives will be under the spotlight.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) will process licence applications and renewals. Every application will be referred to South Australia’s Commissioner of Police for inquiry and advice, and should the Commissioner oppose any application, it will be denied.

For those who pass muster, industrial hemp cultivation and processing licences will be issued for a period of not more than 5 years and activities can only be carried out at specified premises.

Only certified industrial hemp seed can be used in cultivation. The draft regulations state an industrial hemp crop may not exceed 1.0% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – a psychoactive compound) to remain compliant with licence conditions. Above this level and the plants will no longer be considered industrial hemp, but instead cannabis. In this situation, the crop will be destroyed and the applicant risks licence cancellation.

As well as the THC restriction, it won’t be permissible to use any industrial hemp crops grown in South Australia as a source of cannabidiol (CBD), another therapeutic cannabinoid. Crops will only be used for fiber purposes, and food applications when that becomes legal.

A bill enabling cultivation of industrial hemp in South Australia passed State Parliament in April with the support of the Government and Opposition.

It’s expected industrial Hemp Act 2017 will commence operating on the same date the Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017 commence, which is anticipated to be late this year.

The full draft regulations can be viewed here (PDF) and a related discussion paper here (Word).

A series of information sessions will be held throughout the state over the next couple of weeks concerning the draft regulations, the details of which can be found here. Consultation/feedback closes at 5pm, Friday 25 August 2017.

Industrial hemp cultivation and processing in South Australia is expected to create jobs in a state that sorely needs them, provide farmers with more diversification options and make better use of marginal land.