Australian state moving ahead on hemp

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Industrial hemp looks on its way to being legalized in South Australia (SA), unlocking the state’s potential for hemp-based cosmetics, textiles and clothing as well as building materials.

SA’s Manufacturing and Innovation Ministry has signaled it will add amendments to the state’s Industrial Hemp Bill, which was introduced to Parliament by Greens Party last year, to turn the industry loose.

“It will allow farmers to consider whether they want to grow hemp in SA and to become licensed to do so,” SA Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said.

Meanwhile, Industrial Hemp Association SA president Teresa McDowell said she hopes Australia’s federal government will soon legalize hemp foods for sale all across the country.

Hemp foods, potentially one the most lucrative sector of the hemp market, remain off the table in Australia under federal rules. Australian hemp firms such as global leader Hemp Foods Australia, based in New South Wales, have substantial seed contract business already in place but current federal laws force those companies to work the export markets while blocked from domestic sales.

Ministers are due to decide in April if hemp foods should be legalized for sale on the domestic market. Despite Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) having repeatedly OK’d an application to allow consumption of Australian grown hemp seed, health ministers have blocked progress over concerns about THC levels.

Some estimates show hemp-based foods and medicines such as CBD could quadruple Australia’s $13 million hemp market, now based only on seed and straw production; most of that is from producers in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.

Hemp Foods Australia received nearly $600,000 from the Australian government to build a $1.178 million state-of-the-art processing facility to help meet growing global demand.

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