Western Australia’s industrial hemp farmers have received some very good news – legislation has been passed to increase the upper limit of THC permitted.
The state’s hemp farmers have had to put up with a very restrictive maximum limit of 0.35 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound in cannabis, in their crops.
The McGowan Government’s amendments to the Industrial Hemp Act 2004 passed State Parliament yesterday, increasing the permitted tetrahydrocannabinol content in industrial hemp to one per cent. The changes are yet to be proclaimed i.e. come into force – but that is expected within the next few weeks.
“Our Government is working hard to support this exciting fledgling agricultural industry,” said Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan. “These amendments will reduce risk for hemp growers and open up new opportunities in hemp seed as a food and drink product.”
While hemp seed has minute quantities of THC, the 0.35% limit applied to the leaves and flowering heads, limiting farmers to the strains of industrial hemp they could grow. The change in law is just common sense. Even at 1%, hemp has zero value in terms of recreational use.
The change will bring WA into line with other Australian states.
Western Australia’s Agriculture Minister originally announced the intention to lift the limit back in February. At that point, there were 42 licensed growers in WA – today there are 50.
“From the Ord down to the South-West and Great Southern, we are seeing unprecedented support for hemp as a fibre, food and building product,” said Minister MacTiernan. “The cross-party support for these amendments is a sign of the wide recognition for the job-creating potential of this industry for regional WA.”
It was only November last year the ban on the sale of hemp seed foods was finally officially lifted in Australia – the last country in the world to do so.
In WA and elsewhere in the country, there will still be another green ceiling for the sector.
Western Australia’s hemp sector is regulated under Industrial Hemp Act 2004 , which does not allow for the production of low THC industrial hemp for the purposes of medicinal cannabis products or nutraceuticals. The same situation applies throughout Australia unless farmers are licensed by the Federal Office for Drug Control. It’s a situation many in the industry feel needs to be addressed. Some strains of industrial hemp can be high in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound that is being pursued for its many potential benefits in managing or treating a wide range of conditions.