A new day is dawning.
New Zealand is finally joining the cannabis liberation movement. Proposals to amend the Food Standards Code go as far back as 2002 and have had little success until now. Australian and New Zealand state and federal health ministers have bucked that trend by finally allowing hemp to be sold as a food.
The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation approved the sale of hemp as food in April. But according to the Australian industry publication Grain Central, they also imposed strict guidelines around the products’ marketing and labeling.
The newly released guidelines ban any references to the presence of CBD in the product. This is to prevent any brands linking the products to illicit cannabis or suggest that the products have psychoactive or therapeutic effects. Even though they don’t want anyone associating food with weed, the government is aware of the benefits of hemp.
Hemp food are popular because they contain high levels of protein. A tablespoon of hemp seed can contain almost double the protein found in eggs. Not just any protein either, cannabis has near-perfect ratios of Omega 3 and Omega 6.
New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair was excited for “Australians to reap the benefits” of both hemp food (which is legally sold in 21 nations) and an expanding hemp industry. “Low THC hemp is legally already grown in NSW under strict licensing conditions and it is a hardy and sustainable crop that has enormous potential for both domestic and export markets,” Blair claimed in the report.
“The standard will take effect six months after it has been gazetted and ministers acknowledged that there is still a range of New Zealand and State and Territory legislation that currently prohibits the sale of low-THC hemp seeds as a food which will need to be amended,” the health ministers wrote at the Forum of Food Regulation on Friday.
Australia legalized industrial hemp production nationwide in 2008 but not as a food. Opening the food market increases the demands on production as well. One key for domestic production to keep up with demand is developing drought resistant hemp. Specifically varieties that can then be grown locally and exported legally.
But CBD providers have to be careful about how they market their products. THC, cannabis and marijuana are all words that can get a product pulled from the shelves. Special steps are necessary to ensure compliance with advertising regulations.
It’s understood that labels on hemp foods cannot even allude to psychoactive effects or use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana”. But producers who can work around this might get their products to hit shelves as soon as November.
The big difference between cannabis/marijuana and industrial hemp is the THC levels. Hemp has about 0.03 per cent THC, while marijuana can contain up to 30 per cent THC. This makes it so smoking a whole field of hemp physically can’t get you high. So while cannabis remains restricted, Australia and New Zealand both get to look forward to a new dawn for CBD and hemp.