Hemp could boost regions

12 Oct, 2014 11:00 PM
I understand the reasons why until this point it has been illegal, but I think it needs revisiting

MARK Coulton is backing moves to legalise industrial hemp products to help boost regional economics and generate jobs - and the NSW Nationals MP is also at ease with the more popular push to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“I do have a view on medicinal cannabis - for the record - if it is obviously having beneficial effects on terminally ill people then we should not be denying those people the right to that medication,” he said last week in the House of Representatives.

Mr Coulton said industrial hemp is an entirely different crop that goes back thousands of years but suffers greatly because of its appearance.

“It looks pretty well much the same as a cannabis plant, but it does not have the same qualities as, or affect humans in the same way as, the drug cannabis,” he said.

“Hemp can be used in various ways. The seed can be harvested at the same time for oils, lubricants, biodiesel and health foods. The herb, which is the inner stalk, can be combined with other materials to create building materials. The bast, the outer stalk, can be used in composites to replace plastic and can be further treated to produce a fabric that is very durable and has lots of qualities. Finally, the leaves can be used as stockfeed.”

However, Mr Coulton said it is currently illegal in NSW to sell industrial hemp seed as food; a law which needs revisiting.

“I understand the reasons why up until this point it has been so, but I think this issue needs another look,” he said.

“In my electorate in the Macquarie Valley there is a group of farmers investigating growing hemp. It uses less water per hectare than cotton and is a great rotation crop.

“It is deep-rooted and certainly frees up the soil for further crops.

“Because of the diversity of the product, the potential for employment in regional areas in value-adding what comes through is quite large.

“The problem is you need to grow enough in the first place to have the infrastructure to produce the end products.

“So we need to have not one or two farmers growing this crop; we need to have a few growing it on the first occasion so we have a critical mass.

“It has huge potential for job creation.”

Mr Coulton said the Macquarie 2100 group - a group of Landcare community organisations – was keen to progress the possibilities of growing hemp. He plans to visit Narromine this week to meet with a group of farmers at a public forum to discuss the possibility of growing hemp.

“I understand the difficulties in the past but I do not think that is a good enough reason not to pursue the possibilities,” he said.

“In a time when we need to help farmers become viable and also look at crops that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly, I believe that hemp certainly has the ability to fill that gap.”

In August, Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie and Victorian independent MP Cathy McGowan called on the federal government, via new legislation, to “champion” changes to the Food Standards Code administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand to permit hemp sales for human consumption in Australia.

The two MPs also co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott asking him to end the “deadlock” on the approval of industrial hemp for human consumption.

In 2012, (FSANZ) recommended the product’s approval for human consumption – but Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the western world still restricting the market.

Mr Wilkie said restrictions have frustrated farmers who want access to a growing market worth many millions of dollars in countries including Britain, Canada and the US.

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


13/10/2014 5:41:52 AM

Providing farmers can retain control of hemp it will be a money spinner. However by past experience, and the current attitude of our " minders" I am not confident.
13/10/2014 6:16:18 AM

My youngest suffers from infantile spasms, the worst form of epilepsy. Unless I can get him on the CBD rich, THC devoid medicinal hemp oil, the prognosis from tens to hundreds of uncontrollable seizures a day will eventually leave him a vegetable. I would break the law to get this life saving treatment. The greed and power of multinational drug companies is costing families the health of their kids.
13/10/2014 8:54:53 AM

I feel for you Consolidated & I strongly support any move to make it available for human use in pain relief & correction of conditions such as your infant. Kev Anderson MP for Tamworth has been pushing this issue for some time. It's amazing that big Pharma can get away with murder by pushing artificial drugs as we saw on TV last night with Bayer but when someone with a genuine need for a proven natural drug, it is outlawed. Opium poppies have been grown in Tas for decades & that hasn't caused any major drama so why not give this a chance? I say go for it.
13/10/2014 9:15:38 AM

Consolidated, I too have an adult "child" who has suffered all forms of epileptic seizures for many years. I can not be certain if the cannabis product you mention would have been any greater help than the drugs she has taken over the years. What I can say is that although she still suffers seizures every day at age 40, they generally only take place during sleep and so cause no harm physically. She is no worse intellectually and socially than as a youth and enjoys a happy life. I hope that gives you some hope.
Chick Olsson
13/10/2014 3:02:58 PM

Congrats to The Nats, esp Mark Coulton and Kev Anderson supporting legalised growth and use of this excellent plant. The majority will support this Mark. If in doubt, hold a referendum.
greg green
15/10/2014 4:58:00 AM

My best mate has a tumor that can't be operated on ... luckily for me that he is a dog because I can get some of this to apply topically ... http://www.elixinol.com/ ... this stuff has controlled, almost completely, a bacterial infection in his nose ,due to the tumor, when my vet (and the net) told me that the antibiotics wouldn't clear up the infection ... "Industrial hemp" produces CBD oil without any THC ... search for "Charlotte's web Zaki's Journey" to see how CBD oil can control seizures ...
17/10/2014 10:57:36 AM

Hemp has tremendous positive potential on Mother Nature as a whole. Hemp can be produced into thousands of different products. For instance it can be widely used in the textile, paper, pharmaceutical, fuel, plastic industries. More times than not these products will be more durable and sustainable. We must make Hemp part of our everyday lives. www.HempHelps.org
18/10/2014 7:38:48 AM

Thanks Greg
19/10/2014 10:27:18 PM

Hemp made the discovery of Australia by Europeans possible. All ropes on a sailing ship where made of hemp, The sails where made of hemp. This is how the Europeans where able to go around the world. It was a big agriculture industry. I am a RN with 30 years of experience, a lot of it in A&E and I have seen the impact the seizures have on little kids, their development and their parents. If there is benefit. the it should be made available. Hemp is so easy to grow.


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