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AU: Hemp Decision Delayed As Food Ministers Consider Use Of Low THC Cannabis In Food

Katelyn Baker

Well-Known Member
Australians hoping it will soon be legal to consume food products made from hemp seeds will now have to wait until next year.

A decision on whether hemp can be sold in food products was due to be made this month but has now been delayed until April 2017.

Hemp is a species of cannabis, but unlike marijuana, has low levels off the mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been working on a proposal that would allow the seeds of low THC varieties of cannabis to be used in food.

FSANZ said it would now be discussed at a meeting of Australian and New Zealand food ministers, known as The Forum, in April.

A spokesperson for FSANZ said "the assessment has been delayed to enable resolution of technical aspects", but could not provide further comment.

There have been two proposals in the past submitted by FSANZ to consider hemp as a food product, but both were rejected.

In 2015 food ministers were concerned about the potential impact of low THC hemp products on roadside drug testing and law enforcement, together with concern the legalisation of hemp foods might send mixed messages about the acceptance of marijuana.

Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil are already used in food products in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Hemp food products already exist in Australia, despite ban

Some hemp food products are already being sold in Australia, although they are labelled for cosmetic use only and it is illegal to eat them.

Hemp Foods Australia sells hemp oil, and even lists the nutritional qualities of the oil on the label.

However, on the usage label it states "use for massage, as a facial moisturiser and in other applications where you would ordinarily want to use highly nutritious oils".

Paul Benhaim, CEO of Hemp Foods Australia, denied this was a loophole that manufacturers used to sell hemp foods until it became legal.

"There is no loophole, we are not selling a food product in Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"The the products we sell are legal to grow, manufacture and produce and sell as long as it's sold for external use only [not consumption].

"We manufacturer hemp seeds, oil and protein in Australia for skin care use only while we wait for the legislation to be changed."

Mr Benhaim said his company only marketed its hemp products as a food for overseas buyers, and said Australian consumers know not to eat it.

"Our products are made in a food grade facility in northern New South Wales, which is registered, and we adhere to all food standards and practice good food manufacturing processes," he said.

"But that is because we produce these products for export as a food, whereas in Australia and New Zealand, we make it extremely clear to all our customers that these products cannot be consumed."

Other than that distinction, Mr Benhaim said the oil sold in Australia and the oil sold overseas was exactly the same.

"[If the laws in Australia change] hemp seed oil and protein will go straight into the market for human consumption with one small change - we will take off our label that says it's not for human consumption."

Similarly, Sydney-based chocolate manufacturer Pana Chocolate sells a "hemp & nib" product.

The company also lists the nutritional qualities of the product on the label, but then indicates it is a body scrub for "cosmetic use only".

Pana Chocolate did not respond to the ABC's requests for an interview.

Defending hemp

Randall Berger is a blogger and founder of Industrial Hemp Australia - a support network for those that want to see hemp foods legalised in Australia.

Mr Berger said hemp was unfairly treated and a proper debate was needed to enable food processors to legally make hemp food products.

"A lot of foods that we eat are derived from plants that have a drug component, like poppy seeds," he said.
"Yet they haven't stopped people eating poppy seed rolls.

"In industrial hemp foods [THC] is so negligible that it can't be measured in a drug test."

Mr Berger said another criticism he considered inaccurate was that growers might try to disguise illegal marijuana plants in hemp crops.

"They are, for all intensive purposes, relatives of the same plant but the leaf structures are quite different," he said.

"One dominates the other, so you won't be able to hide a marijuana crop in the middle of an industrial hemp crop.

"It will grow so fast it will dominate it and wither and die."


News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Hemp Food Decision Delayed As Food Ministers Consider Use Of Low THC Cannabis In Food
Author: Marty McCarthy
Contact: ABC
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: ABC
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