Written by Gina Fenech
The Tasmanian State Government has made a vow to get an industrial hemp industry up and running in Tasmania.
In Tasmania, Cannabis Sativa generally known as Industrial Hemp is being treated as its illegal relative Marijuana. Industrial Hemp is not grown for its psycho active drug agent THC, and cannot cause drug effects.
It is currently harder to grow Industrial Hemp than it is to grow medicinal opium in Tasmania. Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockcliffe says he wishes to progress quickly to create a balance in the legislation and cut the red tape on Industrial hemp crops being grown.
Tasmania is well suited for Industrial Hemp and poppy growing plus pharmaceutical poppies have been farmed in the state for over 40 years.
Industrial Hemp has been grown in civilisations for over 10,000 years, infact hemp fabric has been found as far back as 8000BC in Turkey. Australia is the only western country that won’t allow consumption of non-drug hemp. Even in the US where growing of hemp is banned it can still be eaten.
Jan Davis from the Farmers and Graziers Association says ‘We could sell as much hemp as we could grow tomorrow; it’s the regulations that are stopping us from growing on a commercial scale’
Let’s hope that we see changes to the legislation in the near future, as the uses of industrial hemp are infinite. It can be a major source of fibre for making shoes, clothing even rope and paper, the uses are endless. Hemp is one of the world’s toughest natural fibres and the oil and grain has optimal ratios of essential fatty acids for healthy cell development. It is also one of the easiest oils for humans to absorb.
Tasmania needs to promote the fact to the rest of the world that our poppy industry is secure and consequently our hemp industry would mirror this. Jeremy Rockcliffe says the government is taking into consideration recommendations from a review of the Poppy Advisory and Control Board which was completed last year.
‘There’s a huge opportunity there, in my view, both from a fibre point of view which is probably a broader commodity scale, to that within food products and seed products, which is more niche’
Jeremy Rockcliffe says the new state government is still considering its approach; however the goal is to remove the red tape so that people move towards the industry and explore it.
On a separate note, company Tasman Health Cannabinoids met with Health Minister Michael Ferguson recently to examine plans for the company to run trials of medicinal cannabis in conjunction with UTAS.
The company was eager to trial a small crop of cannabis to be utilised for cancer patients who have gone through extensive chemotherapy and are suffering nausea and appetite loss. The plan was rejected outright due to concerns about safety, security and the potential for social harm of promoting a medicinal cannabis industry in Tasmania.
Greens MP Cassey O’Connor said reasons that had been given for rejecting the trial were hard to understand and believes that the minister should be talking to the patients who are anorexic as a result of not being able to eat due to chemotherapy. MP Cassey O’Connor challenged Mr Ferguson to meet the cancer patients in person, stating ‘we know that medical cannabis provides significant relief to people who cannot eat’