9 Dec 2011

Hemp producer supports regulation review

7:03 am on 9 December 2011

The country's largest hemp producer says removing restrictions on the use of hemp seed in food products would open up a valuable new use for the crop.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Authority is considering legalising the sale of processed hemp seed for food.

It is currently restricted because the seeds contain very low levels of the active cannabis ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

The rule change would allow hemp seed to be used in food products such as muesli bars and protein powders.

The Midlands Seeds company has been growing hemp for about 10 years, to extract oil from the seeds.

Director Andrew Davidson says being able to process the seed for food products as well would significantly increase the value of growing the crop.

He says at the moment only a portion of the seed grown can be sold as oil and the rest is sold as animal feed.

Mr Davidson says the focus is on having a product that can be grown by New Zealand farmers, processed in factories here and sold to New Zealand consumers.

But he says a change in regulation will also give producers in other countries the opportunity to import product.

Mr Davidson says hemp seed is used in food products elsewhere in the world, including the United States, Canada and Europe.

Submissions on the proposal to change the hemp regulations close in February next year.