New Zealand Relaxes Regulations for Industrial Hemp

Wellington, New Zealand: Beginning August 1, the New Zealand Health Ministry will introduce a new regulatory system for the processing, cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, according to a press release issued by the Director-General of Health.

The new system will allow individuals and organizations to apply for a license to cultivate approved varieties of industrial hemp, and will allow growers to apply for other varieties to be considered for research and cultivation. Approved varieties of hemp will include only those containing less that 0.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

Derek Fitzgerald, director of Medsafe, the medicine regulatory agency overseeing the new program, commented that, “The new regulations … take into account the low drug [THC] content of hemp, which was previously subjected to the same strict controls as those placed on illicit cannabis”. The new regulations come after a two year trial period to determine if industrial hemp has a potential as a cultivation crop, and if the cultivation can be controlled and regulated.

However, Fitzgerald did note that, “the new regulations still classify industrial hemp as a controlled drug and consider it an offense to advertise hemp for psychoactive purposes or to supply it to unauthorized persons”. Further, the new licensing system will cover only hemp, while other varieties of cannabis will continue to be regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1975.

Industrial hemp can be used for everything from food and body care products, to building materials, paper and textiles, and as an alternative renewable energy source. Currently over 30 other countries have laws allowing the cultivation and production of industrial hemp.

Fore more information please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy analyst, at (202) 483-5500. For additional information, visit http://www.legislation.govt.nz/ after August 1 to read about the new regulations.