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'Exciting new industry for New Zealand' - Hemp seeds become legalised as food

Hemps seeds have become legalised as food, in a move that the Minister of Food safety has labelled as "an exciting new industry for New Zealand" and believes it will benefit the New Zealand economy.

Hemp

The agreement was reached today between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities, which has approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food, Minister David Bennett says. 

He says hemp has no psychoactive effect and in the past has been used as a source of fibre and oil due to contaning proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty-acids. 

"Hemp seeds have a growing global market currently worth around $1 billion," Mr Bennett said in a statement this afternoon.

"It is estimated it will initially generate between $10 million and $20 million in export revenue and create about 20 jobs.

"These seeds do not require either fertiliser or irrigation. Because of the low inputs, research has put the farm gate revenue for hemp seed between $4000 and $5000 per hectare."

Mr Bennett says jobs will be created through the legalisation from "processing the seed crop into oil, flour, protein and hulled hemp seeds."

Changes will need to be made under the Food Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Medicines Act before the standard can take effect, which may take up to 18 months.