The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have today opened public consultation on amending regulations to allow the sale and use of low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp seed as foods in New Zealand.
Head of New Zealand Food Safety at MPI, Bryan Wilson, says we are seeing more and more overseas regulators allowing hemp seed to be used in foods as it's highly nutritious with omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.
"Hemp is a plant that contains extremely low levels of THC, with the seeds themselves containing only trace amounts of THC, which means they are safe to eat," says Mr Wilson.
"Currently hemp seed oil can be sold in New Zealand and initial conversations with New Zealand food businesses have shown that there is wide support to broaden the range of foods that can be made from hemp seeds.
"The hemp industry believes that the production of hemp seed foods will stimulate regional economies, create jobs and generate $10-20 million of export revenue within 3 to 5 years," Mr Wilson says.
In April 2017, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation voted to approve a new trans-Tasman standard to allow the sale of hemp seed as food. However, in order for hemp seed to be allowed in food products in New Zealand, amendments need to be made to both the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015, which are the focus of the consultation.
Public consultation on the proposed amendments is open until 5pm on Wednesday 20 June 2018. People are encouraged to learn more about what's being proposed and provide feedback to MPI.
This consultation is also an opportunity to review the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006, which set out the licensing requirements for cultivation and production of hemp products.