AFTER DECADES OF WAITING FOR LEGISLATION TO BE PASSED TO LEGALISE THE CONSUMPTION OF HEMP IN AUSTRALIA, HEMP FOOD BRANDS HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT!
On 28 April 2017, the hemp food industry in Australia changed forever. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) proposal to permit the sale of food derived from the seeds of low delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol varieties of cannabis stavia (hemp) was passed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Now Australia and New Zealand are in line with the rest of the world.
While passed in April, the changes have just come into effect as of 12 November 2017.
The delay in the amendment taking effect was given to allow each state and territory time to amend respective legislation which is required to support the legal sale of low-THC hemp seed foods in Australia.
The changes pave the way for Australia to reap the nutritional, financial and environmental benefits of selected hemp foods.
These foods were previously marked for ‘external use only’. With legislation changes, healthy hemp foods are now legal for human consumption across Australia.
“In five years’ time, hemp could be as common as soy, chia and flaxseed because it’s nutritious.” Said Paul Benhaim, chief executive of Hemp Foods Australia. Paul is also predicting sales of hemp seeds to quadruple in the year following this change.
WHAT IS HEMP?
Hemp differs from other varieties of cannabis. It is not marijuana. Hemp is a woody plant with no buds. Historically hemp has been used as a source of fibre and oil in traditional medicines. Hemp has no or miniscule traces of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the cannabinoid associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana.
Hemp is a highly nutritious plant and can be used to make food ingredients like seeds, flour, oil and protein powder. Internationally, the food market has seen a range of hemp consumables such as; hemp snack bars, pasta and milk, just to name a few. With more products being created every day, production techniques will evolve and get even better.
It is expected that Australia will see the similar introduction of hemp food products over the next few years.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE LEGISLATION
Australian states were given until 12 November 2017 to make legislation amendments to meet the Council of Australian Governments legislation. Some states made this change faster than others. While states were waiting for the legislation amendments, retailers were still able to sell hemp seed products for external use.
Find out more and keep up to date on this legislation change on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website.