Lifting Australia’s Hemp Food Ban – An Excruciatingly Slow Process Continues

Australia's hemp seed food ban
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An oft-asked question is about the lifting of the ridiculous hemp food ban in Australia – are finally we there yet? Nope, not quite; but there is a light at the end of the tunnel ( and it’s apparently not an oncoming train).

The Tasmanian Government provided an update last week on the nutty situation based on the outcome of the recent Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation meeting in Brisbane.

The Forum advised the final research report is delayed, and will now be considered in early 2017 – which pretty much confirms what we reported early this month.

Tasmania’s Minister for Health Michael Ferguson said that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is developing a draft proposal on how low-THC hemp could be legally designated as a food.

The term “low-THC hemp” is a bit of a strange one. The nature of hemp is that it is already very low in the psychoactive compound. It would be more accurate to call it “ultra-low THC”.

There’s been an over-abundance of caution in moving towards lifting of the ban on hempseed based foods in Australia. It’s really been a case of taking the precautionary principle to a whole new level given hemp foods have been utilised by humanity for thousands of years and their amazing nutritional value is well known.

However, Tasmania’s government does seem to be fully behind an industrial hemp industry.

“The Liberal Government is committed to the industry and has streamlined the licencing and regulatory processes making it easier for our farmers to grow industrial hemp,” said Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff

“Special purpose legislation for the cultivation and supply of industrial hemp for commercial production was introduced and licences have been extended from one to five years. Tasmanian farmers are now well placed to capitalise on new markets if the Federal prohibition on hemp foods in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code is lifted.”

In October, both houses of Parliament passed legislation alleviating the regulatory burden in Tasmania’s industrial hemp sector; which will help stimulate investment and create industrial hemp related jobs in the Apple Isle.

Australia remains the last country in the world to retain a ban on hemp foods in any form – here’s hoping early 2017 will see an end to that rather embarrassing distinction.