South Australia’s Government will support a bill that allows for hemp to be cultivated and manufactured for industrial purposes.
Growing and processing hemp for industrial purposes will soon be legal in South Australia. The State Government has publicly announced it will approve Greens MP Tammy Frank’s hemp bill once Parliament resumes.
The bill, once approved, will allow for those who pass inspections and a “fit and proper person” test to legally grow hemp containing a limited level of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Hemp is currently grown all over the world for its food and fiber. Nearly 10,000 acres of hemp are now growing in the United States for pilot project and research purposes. The plant’s seeds and stalk are an effective source of cannabidiol (CBD), a natural cannabinoid that has been shown in a patent by the U.S. National Institutes of Health to have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher explained to The Advertiser that the hemp grown by South Australian farmers could be used to produce an array of products, including milk, oil, biofuel, construction materials, textiles for clothing, and paper.
“By removing legal barriers to the cultivation of industrial hemp we are giving growers and manufacturers the opportunity to explore the economic potential for the industry in South Australia,” Maher said. “With the appropriate rules and regulations in place, our farmers will be able to become involved in the hemp sector, with the potential to further develop industries through the growth and manufacturer of the material.”
Victoria was the first Australian state to legalize hemp, in 1998. Since then, many of the other states followed. Once cultivation becomes legal in South Australia, the Northern Territory will become the only remaining jurisdiction where hemp hasn’t been legalized.
Franks introduced her hemp bill to Parliament last year. The State Government then considered the bill and agreed to back it provided THC levels were limited and growers were subject to tests and regulatory checks.
“Last month we held a roundtable with people interested in the economic opportunities of hemp and medical cannabis,” Maher said, according to ABC. “It will also allow for the possibility of manufacturing hemp into products such as textiles, building products and a range of cosmetics.
“It will then be up to the industry to decide. It will be up to farmers to decide whether this is an economic and viable crop for them and also manufacturers to look at if they can economically make… things like building products, textiles and cosmetics.”
Industrial Hemp Association official Teresa McDowell told ABC that she supports and welcomes the bill, citing the potential economic benefits it will bring to South Australia.
“The industry globally is multi-faceted and worth billions of dollars – if you look at the hemp food industry globally, places like Canada exported $114 million worth of food and in America the industry is worth $575 million per year,” McDowell said. “Economically, it’s an incredible resource and one that we just need to allow our state to tap into.”
Once the legislation is approved, crop trials in South Australia could start sometime this year.
Last month, South Australia’s Federal Government also moved to loosen importation laws around medical marijuana, allowing patients to get access to cannabis in the interim until domestic cultivation supply meets demands.