The legalisation of low-THC hemp as a food is a step closer today after agreement at a meeting of Australian and New Zealand health ministers.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said he was pleased his counterparts had agreed with a Tasmanian Liberal Government plan to accelerate work on the lifting of the prohibition of hemp food product.
The Hodgman Government has been a long-time advocate for the use of low-THC hemp in food, which will present an enormous opportunity for our farmers.
The forum noted that while most of the work underway to address information gaps in relation to low-THC hemp food was on track, completion of clinical human consumption trials had been delayed from March 2016 to later in the year.
To minimise the impact of this delay, Members agreed with Tasmania to ask Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to commence work on a proposal to allow consideration of low THC hemp policy at the next Ministerial meeting, in March 2016, in parallel with finalising the trials. This will potentially allow the process to be dealt with sooner than otherwise would have been the case.
Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff said that lifting the current prohibition would be a sensible reduction of unnecessary red tape.
“Allowing the use of low-THC hemp in food products has potential to open new markets for our agriculture industry, strengthening the economy and creating jobs,” he said.
"The Liberal Government is committed to the industry and has taken action to implement significant reforms that will make it easier for our farmers to grow industrial hemp, including the introduction of special purpose legislation for the cultivation and supply of industrial hemp for commercial production and the extension of licencing from one to five years.
"This has ensured that as soon as the Federal prohibition on hemp foods in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code is lifted Tasmanian farmers will be well placed to capitalise on new markets."