Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick says the government voted in favour of permitting hemp seeds, which contained low amounts of psychoactive THC, at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation held in Adelaide last week.
He says the vote is a win for both health-conscious Aussies and licensed hemp growers and processors who are contributing to a budding economic sector.
"We know that hemp seeds and their oil are already used extensively in foods in North America and Europe, so enabling it to be a legal food source will provide many opportunities," says Dick.
"Hemp is already cultivated in Australia under strict licensing agreements as a source of fibre for clothing and some building products, however it is currently illegal to sell the product as a food.
"Enabling hemp seed to be a legal food source will also provide entrepreneurial opportunities with new types of food products that can be sold, particularly health foods."
A WIN FOR ASX COMPANIES AND 'GANJAPRENEURS'Australian companies in the cannabis and hemp space are already taking advantage of the new nationwide legal allowance.
Queensland Bauxite (ASX: QBL), the ASX listed company which acquired a majority stake in Medical Cannabis Limited earlier this year, announced its plans to provide quality controlled hemp foods to the market through its subsidiary Vitahemp.
Andrew Kavasilas says the legalisation of hemp food production has been a long-awaited win.
"This is perfect for us, a development we have been waiting for since 2009," says Kavasilas.
"No Australian company has been legally approved to sell hemp seed food products to Australian consumers until now.
Kavasilas says his company entered talks with the New South Wales government in 2015 to establish trade standards in relation to hemp, which ultimately fell through.
"We attempted to address this issue seriously back in 2015 during negotiations with NSW Department of Trade and Investment and Southern Cross University," he says.
"The initiative was placed in abeyance due to its current status and illegality for human consumption of hemp seed foods at the time.
"With the FOFR's approval this will give us time to fast track our winter cropping plans and expand to incorporate contract farmers with buy-back options for Vitahemp to build its seed stock and be the first major player in this exciting and nutritional new industry."
HEALTH BENEFITS ALL AROUNDAccording to health sites, hemp seeds are higher in protein than chia and flaxseeds, contain more than 30 per cent natural fat and are particularly rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Minister Cameron Dick says studies have confirmed that low-THC variants of the seed won't impair consumers and affect the outcome of roadside drug tests in any way.
"Hemp seeds and oil have a high nutritional value and are currently used safely in foods in many other countries," he says.
"It's important to know that hemp seeds contain extremely low levels of THC so hemp food products have no psychoactive effects at all.
"An important consideration for Ministers at the Forum was the recently completed Swinburne University Melbourne research, which shows consumption of hemp seed foods would have no impact on roadside drug testing because THC levels were so low."
He also says the government has been diligent to approve further cannabis-related products for medical use.
"We have already introduced Australia's most robust laws to allow legitimate patients access to medicinal cannabis and now we're supporting the move to give Queenslanders access to nutritious hemp products," says Dick.
"We are committed to providing and supporting holistic health care to patients and that's why we have worked so hard to ensure beneficial treatments are available safely and legally."
Amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to allow the sale of hemp food products are expected to come into effect in the next six months.
Business News Australia
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