The use of low-THC hemp seeds in food products has been approved by state and federal health ministers after years of lobbying.
Hemp foods will be available for sale for human consumption across all states in Australia from November this year.
"The standard will take effect six months after it has been gazetted and ministers acknowledged that there is still a range of New Zealand and State and Territory legislation that currently prohibits the sale of low-THC hemp seeds as a food which will need to be amended," The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation said in a communique following their meeting in Adelaide on Friday.
The use of hemp as a food had been rejected by ministers in the past over fears it would affect roadside drug testing and due to potential perceptions of tolerance toward the drug's illegal counterpart.
Ministers noted at the meeting that it is highly unlikely that consumption of food products containing the levels of THC tested would result in any positive tests on oral fluid, blood or urine, according to a Swinburne University of Technology report on consumption of low THC foods and the effect on random drug testing protocols.
In light of these findings, the ministers said, they supported the draft standard that will allow low-THC hemp seeds to be sold as a food.
Hemp seeds contain a range of vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, and are a natural source of B vitamins and D3 minerals.
The international market for hemp foods has been estimated at $1 billion annually, and demand for Australian hemp foods is expected to quadruple once the legislation is approved, according Australia's largest hemp foods manufacturer, Hemp Foods Australia.
“We expect to see hemp seeds, protein oil and flour used by Australian restaurants and many manufacturers in their recipes,” Hemp Foods Australia CEO and founder Paul Benhaim said.