State and Federal Tasmanian Members of Parliament have stepped up the pressure on the Federal Government to allow production of industrial hemp for human consumption.

In Australia, the National Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) includes the genus Cannabis as a ‘Prohibited Substance’, except as processed hemp fibre containing 0.1 per cent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and products manufactured from such fibre. It is currently prohibited for human consumption.

All Australian States, with the exception of South Australia, allow the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp under a licensing and/or authorisation process.

Andrew Wilkie, the Federal member for Denison in Tasmania, has labelled industrial hemp as lucrative and safe, while noting that its use is lawful in “just about every other developed country.” The low THC version of cannabis has been extensively investigated in other countries to ensure its safety and suitability for human consumption.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) had previously recommended the legalisation of industrial hemp for human consumption, but this recommendation has not yet been approved, on grounds of issues for law enforcement and marketing concerns.

Similarly, the Tasmanian Liberal Government, led by Premier Will Hodgman and Minister for Health Michael Ferguson, have pushed the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) to accept FSANZ’s recommendation. In early July, the Forum agreed to accelerate work to lift the prohibition.

The major benefit of the legalisation of industrial hemp is a large up-swing in sales capacity for many farmers, particularly in Tasmania. The industrial hemp industry is now worth many millions of dollars a year, and is growing. The Tasmanian Government has begun reform to allow growing of industrial hemp by farmers in Tasmania. This ensures that, if the Forum does indeed lift the prohibition, Tasmania will be ready to begin selling hemp for human consumption.