Overcoming stigma is key to advancing hemp in Australian state, lawmaker says

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Developing a hemp industry for the Australian state of Victoria “won’t cost a lot of money and is achievable,” according to a leading lawmaker advocate. 

MP Rachel Payne of the Legalise Cannabis Victoria party said key recommendations in a recent report exploring the crop’s potential should emphasize clearing up hemp’s profile.

“When it comes to hemp investment, reducing the stigma of hemp through meaningful legislative reform is key to improving the attitudes of both local government and investors,” Payne said, noting the state has an opportunity to advocate for hemp at a national level.

“My inquiry has set out a clear path to build the hemp industry in Victoria. For too long this sustainable fibre has been neglected and overlooked for less versatile crops,” Payne added. “Whether it’s to build houses, make food, or capture carbon, the whole of hemp can be used – but we need the Government to address barriers such as planning laws and procurement policies.”


The Victorian government’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee signed off on the report, which follows a parliamentary inquiry that examined the issues and opportunities facing the sector. It recommends:

  • Streamlining the regulatory framework for hemp cultivation and processing to reduce administrative burdens, including streamlining licensing processes, clarifying regulations on product development, and aligning Victorian regulations with national standards.
  • Targeting government support to foster innovation, including funding for research and development, financial assistance for new businesses, and support for industry-led initiatives.
  • Establishing strong marketing and promotion to increase demand for Victorian hemp products, including targeted marketing campaigns, trade missions, and collaboration with industry partners to identify and expand market opportunities.
  • Diversification of hemp products to include textiles, construction materials, food products, and biofuels capture a wider range of market opportunities.
  • Education and awareness campaigns to dispel misconceptions about hemp and promote its benefits through public education initiatives, partnerships with industry bodies, and collaboration with schools and universities.
  • Fostering collaboration and partnerships among stakeholders in the hemp industry, including government agencies, research institutions, industry associations, and individual businesses.
  • Capitalizing on the environmental benefits of hemp cultivation, including its ability to sequester carbon, reduce water consumption, and provide sustainable alternatives to synthetic materials.

Building materials, food

The report acknowledges the significant economic potential of the hemp industry, including job creation, export opportunities, and regional development, suggesting a robust hemp sector could revitalize regional economies and contribute to Victoria’s overall economic growth.

Stakeholders have urged the state to support hemp farming for such products as building materials and food, which they say could supplant jobs and revenues that will be lost to the timber industry in the state after the government announced it will shut down native logging at the end of this year.

While the state’s hemp industry is minuscule now – only six farmers are growing fewer than 200 hectares of hemp in Victoria – proponents say planting 5,000 hectares of industrial hemp per year could result in the production of 50,000 tons of hemp hurd and fiber for natural building materials as conventional materials have been in short supply, driving up prices.

Hemp ‘hubs’ needed

Georgie Purcell of the Animal Justice Party said: “Despite currently contributing only a small proportion of the national hemp output, and Australia’s tiny contributions to global output, stakeholders said that with the right legislative changes and investment, hemp offers Victoria significant economic opportunities and can aid its emission-reduction targets.”

Hemp advocates say regional production hubs are needed to reduce transportation costs and emissions, promote local economic development, and ensure the quality and safety of industrial hemp products, according to a study by a team of researchers from Canada’s University of Guelph that was published last year. 

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