How Hemp Plants Got so Popular Recently
Since the early 2010s, the hemp industry in Australia has been on an ascendance. Lawmakers have paved the way for its legal cultivation and use and enterprising businesses have waded in with massive investments in various hemp and research and production projects around the country.
Hemp enthusiasts in the country believe Australia has the potentials to rise to pole position in global hemp production. However, the Australian hemp industry still has a long way to go in its growth phase, compared to other leading economies around the world where the industry is legal. For instance, the hemp industry in the US is worth $150 million, nearly a hundred folds of Australia’s, which is projected to clock in at $3 million in 2023.
But while the growth in the industry seems slower compared to that in other countries, hemp is fast catching on in Australia. More people are coming around to appreciate the immense therapeutic and nutritional potentials as well as the eco-friendly industrial applications of the plant.
Hemp oil is increasingly becoming the preferred alternative to other oils like fish oil thanks to the presence of omega 3-6-9 in their perfect ratio. This composition of essential fatty acids also imbues hemp oil with anti-inflammatory potentials that help fight conditions such as heart diseases, skin problems, etc.
Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids and are gluten-free. All in all, hemp is commonly regarded as a “superfood” that supplies the body with a rich profile of nutrients with little food preparation needed.
On the industrial level, hemp’s rich fiber content makes it a highly versatile industrial material. Hemp fiber can be used to manufacture building materials such as concrete and insulation components, as well as other industrial products like paper, animal bedding, fabrics, etc. Hemp fiber also boasts desirable qualities such as breathability, durability, and UV protection.
Recent Changes to the Law Surrounding Hemp Plants
On November 12, 2017, the Federal Government enacted changes to the Food Standard Code to legalize the consumption and trade of low-psychoactive hemp seed as a food. Most jurisdictions around the country have adopted this new code with slight variances in the finer details.
Each jurisdiction also has its set of mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing compliance with their standards among producers of hemp products. But be that as it may, the new hemp code effectively classifies hemp seed as just about any food in your local grocery stores, from mushrooms to oats, quinoa, and mustard seeds.
The definition of “low-psychoactive” in the Food Standard Code is content with less than 0.5% THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis. In Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania, the approved THC level is 0.35% or less, whereas in New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland, the approved levels can be as high as 1%.
But generally, the psychoactive content of hemp seeds is usually negligible. With the legalization, policymakers are officially admitting that hemp seeds can be only as psychoactive as staple foods.
Is Hemp Banned in Australia? What’s the Legal Line?
Currently, hemp can be legally cultivated in Australia with a state-issued license. However, hemp is still lumped in together with other cannabis products in the “Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. The hemp cultivation licensing program is run under a different legal provision that states explicit conditions for cultivating industrial hemp.
The licensing process entails a physical inspection and regular monitoring of the grower’s site by the State Government. The grower must regularly be seen complying with the conditions for growing hemp for a specific purpose and not for any other.
For instance, the inspection team will analyze samples from the farm to ensure that the hemp contains approved levels of THC, and also confirm that the plantation is not easily accessible to the public to avoid illegal supply and use.
Is Hemp Eco-Friendly?
Hemp has been praised by eco-maniacs for being industrially instrumental in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Hemp products are often less toxic to both humans and the environment.
For starters, hemp can be perfectly grown without artificial chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides that may pollute the soil and contaminate the harvest. Hemp cultivation also requires much less water compared to other cash crops such as cotton. As a source of biofuel, hemp is a sustainable source of energy. Hemp is also used to produce highly durable building materials at a much cheaper rate.