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Hemp seeds as food

Proposal to permit foods derived from hemp

The Food Standards Code was amended in 2017 to permit the sale of low THC hemp seed foods. In April 2017 ministers responsible for food regulation considered FSANZ's approval of a proposal to permit the sale of low-THC hemp seed foods. Ministers did not seek a review of the decision.

Contact your local food enforcement agency to check legislation to support the legal sale of low-THC hemp seed foods.

Hemp

Hemp or industrial hemp is a cannabis plant species (Cannabis sativa). Historically, hemp has been used as a source of fibre and oil. Hemp seeds and oil are used in other countries, including in Europe, Canada and the United States of America, in a range of foods. Hemp seeds contain protein, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

Cannabis extracts have also been used in medicine for a variety of ailments. However hemp does not have therapeutic effects because it has low levels of cannabidiol, the active component of cannabis extracts used for medicinal purposes.

Hemp is different to other varieties of C. sativa which are commonly referred to as marijuana as it contains no, or very low levels of THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana.

Hemp is cultivated worldwide, including in Australia and New Zealand (under strict licensing arrangements) and is currently used in Australia and New Zealand as a source of fibre for clothing and building products.

More information

Page last updated 7 December 2023