By New Zealand Press Association
Nelson, New Zealand — Motueka horticulture scientist Peter Smale says he will reapply to plant a trial research crop of industrial hemp.
His decision followed last week’s announcement by Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle approving a working party by the Customs Service to resolve differing opinions on the crop.
Mr Smale’s application to grow a hemp test crop came to a halt after police and the National Drug Intelligence Agency expressed concerns last year.
The Government postponed setting up a working party, infuriating industrial promoters.
Although the make-up of the working party has not been finalised, it is likely to include representatives from police, Federated Farmers, the Hemp Industries’ Association, scientists, and the Health and Commerce Ministries.
“I intend to make an application as soon as an announcement is made as to what will be the licence conditions,” Mr Smale said.
He said Ms Bunkle’s announcement was a positive move.
“We are closer to getting somewhere now than we have ever been.”
Mr Smale said his deadline for applying for a licence to grow a trial crop was June or July.
“That will give us time to import seed and meet whatever security measures are required.”
Mr Smale said he believed the issue had been used as a political football.
“England, Canada, and Australia have been through the same process, but New Zealand had to reinvent the wheel.”
Hemp Industries Association chairman Mac McIntosh said setting up the working party was a major development on the road to growing the plant in New Zealand. “After three years of negativity and obstructiveness from the Government, what a delight to get a positive response,” Mr McIntosh said.
Hemp products are already made and sold in New Zealand, but the raw materials have to be imported.
Arguably the most famous hemp product here is a suit made for Green MP Nandor Tanczos’s swearing-in at Parliament last month.
The Green Party has been seeking a trial crop of hemp.
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