Monthly Archives: May 2015
NZHIA meets MPI and MOH
Members of the Executive meet with Officials from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Primary Industries, in Wellington on 8 April 2015.
This was the first meeting since the NZHIA has restarted on 1 April 2015. Our aim from the meeting was to open communication channels whilst highlighting hurdles to overcome and milestones to achieve.
The Government is looking for new ideas for revitalising rural NZ. They should be encouraging the hemp industry, due to it’s potential to create new opportunities for employment and development in the regions.
We note that the officials are supportive and have a will to allow the industry to develop. However as the Ministry of Health have plenty of other responsibilities, industrial hemp is not high on their list of priorities. Being an agricultural group which has to be regulated by MOH, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is more of a burden, than an opportunity to them.
The meeting was a chance to sit down with the officials and hear their point of view directly, they do a brilliant job, but they are backward looking in the fact they have to deal with the regulations and law as it currently is. With this focus they are unable to look forward and be proactive to help the hemp industry develop within the framework they occupy.
They are well informed on the positive aspects and potential of a hemp industry, but have to follow the prevailing focus within their Ministry. It simply is not a priority for them.
The industry explained this was not good enough, the ministries need to look forward and help the industry
We stressed this is just another agricultural crop, that has the unfortunate luck of be outlawed as a drug. We need to get over the hemp= cannabis, cannabis = bad rhetoric
We confirmed to them the economic potential for New Zealand, citing the double digit growth in the North American market for the last 10 years. The US market for foods and cosmetics in 2014 was $US620 million
Even though as tax payers we pay their wages, without an MP (preferable from cabinet) asking them to make it happen, it will continue at a slow pace.
The meeting gave us an opportunity to discuss:
Ministry of Primary industries
- Making a change to the Food Standard Code to remove hemp from the prohibited botanicals list http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/code/Pages/Food-Standards-Code-from-1-March-2016.aspx
- The disappointing no vote on A1039 Low THC hemp seed foods and the further work required to be done.
- If they can introduce legislation overnight, under urgency in some cases what is the time line for hemp seed foods.
- What are your plans to raise awareness of the safety of hemp food.
Ministry of Health
- Misuse of Drugs Act – MOH needs to define clearly what Marijuana or high THC cannabis is.
- Hemp seed should not be a Class C Drug – see post on hulled hemp seed.
- Hemp Regulations – review the licensing procedure to ensure it is workable and simple to understand
- Discuss Responsible People, Authorised Activities and duration of licence
- Standardise documentation: seed, cultivate, harvest registers and annual returns
- Develop the steps required to honour the licence & regulations requirements.
- Feedback on the licence application process and areas for improvement
- Regular reports and feedback to the industry from Ministries
- Identify who is effected by industrial hemp within the Ministry
The Ministries confirmed that the Ministers of Health are looking in to reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
The Ministry is reviewing the controls on legitimate (therapeutic and industrial) use of controlled drug. This review will include the licencing, prescribing and classification of controlled drugs for legitimate purposes.
This will be a timely review as the issues surrounding, industrial hemp, medicinal cannabis and recreational use can certainly benefit from being clarified. A suitable outcome would be less barriers stopping the hemp industry developing especially related to hemp seed foods, the regulation of a medicinal industry and a better definition of what recreational cannabis is and how best this market should be regulated.
This review must surly benefit the industry, less restrictions would give us opportunity to get involved and develop local and international markets, which will help grow the industry.
We need a champion within Government to direct the MOH to look forward and develop a suitable framework to help the industry, rather than simply focusing on their interpretation of the current regulations and law.
This Champion will need to press the Government. Make them realise this is an issue of “national significance” and the MOH should be directed to fast track any regulations which will assist the local industry to develop.
This is a legitimate economic opportunity to revitalise rural New Zealand. The MP that pushes this issue, will not be demonised, rather they will be lauded as the person that made the industry happen.
An industry which is truly sustainable, a good news story that will help create opportunities for New Zealand agriculture, R&D, manufacturing and export industries.
The NZHIA is happy to support this MP. Numerous business plans are out there, all of which are on hold until the political risk is removed from the equation.
Hemp industry = Economic Potential = Opportunities for Rural NZ
The NZHIA has written to all the MP’s and we look forward to updating you on the response we get.
Misuse of Drugs Act
Hemp Seed Foods A1039 Low THC Hemp Seed Foods has been rejected
On 30 January the Forum of Food Ministers voted to reject, Application A1039 – Low THC hemp as a food. This is the end of A 1039 (2010-2015), which was the same fate as its predecessor, A360 Hemp as a Novel Food (1998-2002, revisited in 2005)
The Forum of Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) could only vote to accept, amend or reject the variation recommended by their official’s.
Although this is the end of A1039 the Ministers have agreed that further work be done to address the concerns raised.
This further work is expected to take 12-18 months. Industry should note when they finally vote yes, more time will be required to change local law to allow hemp foods to be retailed.
The reasons for the rejection, by forum members are the familiar concerns we have been trying to overcome since the rejection of A360 in 2002.
“Several concerns were raised by some Forum Members, including law enforcement issues, particularly from a policing perspective in relation to roadside drug testing, cannabidiol levels as well as the marketing of hemp in food may send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of Cannabis.”
The NZ Food Minster has one vote, the Australians have 9 votes (states, territories and federal.) Our Minister the Hon Jo Goodhew, has come out publicly several times since the vote in support of access to hemp foods.
It should be noted the New Zealand Ministry of Health officials are supportive, but without the specific direction from a Member of Parliament, they cannot make it a priority.
The good news is that the Forum continued to note that seeds of low-THC hemp do not present any food safety concerns and acknowledged the nutritional value of hemp foods.
The forum did agree that further work be undertaken on law enforcement, roadside drug testing and marketing concerns.
From the NZHIA point of view industrial hemp needs to be removed from the Prohibited Botanical list. This would negate a lot of problems, as hemp seed it is already accepted as safe.
This simplification would make it a straight forward process for the NZ and Australian states and territories to meet their own Misuse of Drugs Act issues, without food regulations impeding industrial development.
In a few years’ time we will look back and say what was all the fuss about and we will have a hard time remembering that hemp was once illegal.
Interested in hemp seed foods, please subscribe to the NZHIA newsletter to keep informed or Join the NZHIA http://nzhia.com/about-nzhia/join-the-nzhia/