Industrial hemp has now been legalized in NSW, Australia. Photo: Hendrike

More than 200 local farmers have expressed interest in growing Industrial hemp, which has now been legalized in the NSW state of Australia. Photo: Hendrike

While the United States still struggles with the idea of growing industrial hemp, Australia is pushing ahead with the environmentally friendly “super fiber”.

The New South Wales (NSW) state government has now passed a law that allows farmers to grow industrial hemp. The government had agreed to introduce the new legislation back in April this year.

The state government has already been inundated with farmers wanting to grow industrial hemp. 

“Already we’ve had over 200 farmers express interest in growing hemp across the state,” said Ian Macdonald, Primary Industries Minister.

Enormous Potential

Industrial hemp has long been known for its enormous versatility, and Mr Macdonald envisages a promising future for the crop. 

“It could become quite a significant crop in a very short period of time, particularly as various companies utilise the products of it for that broad range of products that can be created using industrial hemp as a base.” said Mr Macdonald.

But Barry Dugan, a hemp advocate, is concerned about the scarcity of hemp processing facilities.

“There’s not much point growing the stuff if there’s nowhere to have it treated,’’ he said.

“According to my research, a huge amount of energy and water is required to get all the good things out of hemp.” he continued.

Hemp vs Marijuana

One thing that had concerned the government was the potential for farmers to use their hemp plantations as a way of hiding (illegal) marijuana plants, which look very similar to hemp plants.  

But Mr Macdonald says that measures have now been put in place to prevent hemp crops from camouflaging marijuana crops.

5 Year Licences

The licences are renewable for 5 years under the new legislation.

“The licensing scheme is authorised by our Act of Parliament,” said Mr Macdonald.

“It’ll require farmers who wish to grow industrial hemp to register to get a licence.” he explained.

“That’ll mean that their properties will be then audited and inspected regularly to ensure compliance with the Act.”

The Hemp Industry Act 2008

The act that Mr Macdonald is referring to is the Hemp industry Act 2008, which allows a person to cultivate or supply low-THC hemp for any one or more of the following purposes:

  • for commercial production
  • for use in any manufacturing process
  • for scientific research, instruction, analysis or study
  • for any other purpose prescribed by the regulations

Further, the act explicitly states that “The possession of low-THC hemp is not an offence under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 if it is cultivated or supplied under the authority of this Act”.