Nelson, New Zealand — Motueka hemp advocate Peter Smale says he is disappointed by a decision not to allow trial crops to proceed in time for this planting season.
Mr Smale last month applied for a licence to grow industrial hemp under trial conditions. He received a letter from Medsafe, the business unit of the Ministry of Health, stating that trials would not proceed this planting season.
An inter-agency working party including the police, Customs, the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is discussing a legislative framework, and plans to allow trials to proceed.
However, the letter said it was not expected that the work would be completed in time for this year’s planting season.
Mr Smale said that while he was disappointed by the decision, he was not surprised that the trials would not proceed this season.
“The Government are still reinventing the wheel when it comes to industrial hemp,” he said.
The decision put New Zealand even further behind the rest of the world in industrial hemp production, he said.
Federated Farmers’ representative on the working party, Bruce Hill, said there was an understanding within the group that the trials would be up and running by next year.
Police and Customs had to work through several security and legislative issues, but once this groundwork had been completed there was “no reason” why the trials could not go ahead, he said.
Motueka hemp advocate Steve Burnett, who got off a cannabis charge by using industrial hemp as his defence, said he had also lodged a licence application with the ministry, but had not received a reply.
The Nelson-Motueka area has been tipped as a potentially valuable area to grow hemp. In some places it could be grown alongside complementary crops such as wheat and barley.
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