Tasmanian consumers can now buy hemp seed as food

MANY YEARS IN THE MAKING:  Low-THC hemp seed has now been approved as a food product for sale in Tasmania.
MANY YEARS IN THE MAKING: Low-THC hemp seed has now been approved as a food product for sale in Tasmania.

Tasmanian hemp farmers have been waiting almost 20 years for this, but hemp seed can now be sold as food in the state from November 12.

As the first Australian state to introduce this legislation, Hemp Association of Tasmania president Tim Schmidt said Tasmania was taking the lead and Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia were dragging their feet.

Hemp seed for food does not contain the psychoactive drug THC, but is a super food, Mr Schmidt said.

“It is rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 oils, high in protein, low in sugar and gluten free,” he said.

Hemp has been grown in small quantities in Tasmania legally since the 1990s, but this new legislation means the hemp industry will grow to have around 500 hectares of hemp  planted in Tasmania in anticipation of market growth.

“Over the last 18 months there has been around $2 million invested in the hemp industry in Tasmania including two dehulling facilities, increased drying and grading infrastructure, oil processing facility and funds for crop research. All helping to generate up to a dozen extra jobs in the industry,” Mr Schmidt said.

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture is researching crop production techniques.

EcoFibre and Midlands Seeds are contracting to growers for seed and also undertaking crop research and trials to help develop more productive crops for the Tasmanian industry.

“There are so many potential foods derived from hemp seeds, many available online, and at health food shops. Right now you can even buy hemp ice cream at Constitution Dock in Hobart,” Mr Schmidt said.

“This major industry development will help increase the crop required in Tasmania. This in turn improves the potential utilisation of byproduct from the crop for the building industry in the form of hempcrete,” he said.

The Health Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation approved the Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommendation to allow low-THC hemp to be legally designated as a food in April.