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.
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