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Tasmania standing firm on hemp restrictions

Tasmania’s state government will not change state laws on processed hemp to bring them into line with those across the rest of Australia.

The restrictions in Tasmania for the THC crop to be no more than 0.35 per cent have been labelled “the most restrictive in the world,” compared to mainland laws which allow 1.0 per cent.

In December Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announced that eating the processed hemp seed, containing the active cannabis ingredient delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), could become common practice, if an application made to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) was approved.

Tasmania will begin allowing hemp to be used in food, however, following confirmation from Health Minister Michelle O’Bryne earlier this month that it was ”fully behind moves to remove the prohibition on using low THC hemp products as food.”

She said the introduction of hemp in foods would open doors to new markets for growers.

Today O’Bryne said the current restrictions of 0.35 per cent THC, are appropriate.

”This figure is considered to be reasonable,” she said.

Commercial growers have been calling on the state government to loosen the restrictions for years, as it is currently classed as a poison and requires separate licences to grow, store and transport the substance.

”There are some restrictions in New Zealand, for example, but they’re not as restrictive as they are here,” Bishopsbourne hemp grower Phil Reader told The Examiner.

”They only need one licence to grow it, process it and do whatever with it.”

Reader has warned the government they risk losing the benefits from the industry if the restrictions don’t change, as growers will leave the region to better their opportunities.

”We’ve had a lot of inquiries for increasing produce,” he said.
”We actually had a request in November (2010) from Canada for 500 tonnes of seed.

”If we didn’t have these restrictions, we would have been able to have the seed available.”

In 2002, FSANZ concluded hemp was safe for human consumption.

The federal health minister at the time and the majority of state health ministers rejected the recommendations, but Tasmania supported it.

”We have supported such moves in the past only to be blocked by the Howard Liberal government,” O’Byrne said.

”But even if this latest attempt succeeds, it must be remembered that cannabis sativa is a schedule 9 drug in all states and territories, so the only way to allow growing of low THC crops is to licence them.”

Farmers and Graziers Association president Jan Davis wants the THC levels to be increased to the 1.0 per cent of the rest of the country.

She also said the rules which stipulate hemp must be out of sight of roads and more than five kilometres from schools or other public buildings adds another level of difficulty for growers.

”(It is) a demand made difficult by Tasmania’s size,” she said.

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