POLITICS

Hemp Food Approved For Sale In Australia

Rule changes will allow hemp food products to be sold here.

28/04/2017 2:05 PM AEST | Updated 28/04/2017 2:36 PM AEST

Australia's health ministers have approved the sale of hemp foods nationwide.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation gave approval for hemp seeds to be sold in Australia, at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Adelaide on Friday. It comes after Food Standards Australia and New Zealand approved hemp food in March.

"Ministers supported the draft standard that will allow low-THC hemp seeds to be sold as a food," read a communique released after the meeting.

"The standard will take effect six months after it has been gazetted and Ministers acknowledged that there is still a range of New Zealand and State and Territory legislation that currently prohibits the sale of low-THC hemp seeds as a food which will need to be amended."

Hemp seeds can be used to make foods including veggie burger patties and flour, but won't get you high, despite the common misconception.

Hemp is related to marijuana, but the hemp products approved for sale as classed as being low in THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis. The low-THC hemp products have zero or very little THC, and therefore won't get you high or put you in danger of tripping roadside drug tests or urine analysis, according to Dr Duane Mellor, associate professor in nutritional science at University of Canberra and spokesperson for hemp wholesaler Hemp Foods Australia.

"One of the politicians [at the meeting] was concerned about RBT and tongue swipes, but it won't happen. Assurances has been put through, they've done analysis of the science, it doesn't show up in urine testing, as there's not enough THC in there to have an effect," he told HuffPost Australia.

"People are quite happy to have poppy seeds on their bagels but we don't associate that with opium, it's the same thing [as hemp being linked to marijuana]. Tomatoes are widely eaten, but they're in the same family as deadly nightshade. It's a misinterpretation of the science, linking plants in the same family but with different properties."

In the communique, ministers reinforced the message about hemp and THC.

"Ministers noted the key finding of the Consumption Report is that it is highly unlikely that consumption of food products containing the levels of THC tested would result in any positive tests on oral fluid, blood or urine," the statement said.

Mellor said hemp seeds has a long history of being used in food, and are available through Europe and North America. He said hemp could be turned into protein powder or flour, and used in making patties, sausages, and even milk shakes or ice cream.

"It's used in some areas where you'd use other vegetarian products, like soy or nut flour," he said.

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