Hemp seeds to be legalised as food

  • David Bennett
Food Safety

An agreement reached between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities will see hemp seed legalised as food in New Zealand, Food Safety Minister David Bennett says.

Ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide today approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food.

“I stated my support at the Forum today and was pleased a change to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was approved,” Mr Bennett says.

Mr Bennett says hemp has no psychoactive effect and has historically been used as a source of fibre and oil because it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty-acids.

“Low THC-hemp seed is nutritious, safe to eat and will add to the New Zealand economy.

“Hemp seeds have a growing global market currently worth around $1 billion. It is estimated it will initially generate between $10 million and $20 million in export revenue and create about 20 jobs.

“These seeds do not require either fertiliser or irrigation. Because of the low inputs, research has put the farm gate revenue for hemp seed between $4000 and $5000 per hectare.

“This is an exciting new industry for New Zealand.

“The growth of the seeds will also lead to job creation in New Zealand from processing the seed crop into oil, flour, protein and hulled hemp seeds,” Mr Bennett says.

Before the standard can take effect in New Zealand, changes to regulations under the Food Act, Misuse of Drugs Act, and Medicines Act will need to be made. This process may take up to 18 months.

Note to editors:

  • A cross-agency working group led by the Ministry for Primary Industries, will be formed with the relevant agencies to work through the process of amending relevant legislation including consultation.
  • Hemp seed oil, is already able to be sold in New Zealand. This permission will continue during the implementation period.