Wellington, New Zealand — Hemp crops could be planted by October, with the Government set to approve trials allowing industrial hemp to be grown in New Zealand.
Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle said that the main objections from police had been overcome and “approval in principle” for trials had been granted.
Green co-leader Rod Donald welcomed the decision, saying the past Government sat on the issue for several years. The crop’s potential was “revolutionary in terms of replacing pine as a basic fibre” and could particularly benefit the regional economy.
Ms Bunkle said hemp products were sold and made here, but the fibre — $1 million-worth a year — was imported.
It had heat insulation and sound-proofing qualities, produced a quality vegetable-type oil, and could be turned into paper and chipboard.
Industrial hemp had low levels of the ingredient THC which gave cannabis users a high, so could not be misused as a drug.
“You would just get a sore throat if you tried to use it,” Ms Bunkle said.
Customs, which controls the regulations and security surrounding goods like tobacco, hemp and alcohol, would develop protocols for grower licences.
Trials can go ahead under existing legislation, but law changes would be needed to allow commercial sales.
Mr Donald said the crop was the same as cannabis — but growers of the latter had bred increasingly high levels of THC into their product while hemp growers had bred it out.
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