The hemp seed will this weekend be legalised for consumption after decades of prohibition, and some of Australia's first products are already rolling off the production line.
On Sunday 12 November, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will officially pass the legislation for hemp to be consumed as food in Australia.
Australian Primary Hemp has spent 18 years lobbying Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria (IHAV) for this outcome.
Until now, hemp products have been limited to the textiles, building and cosmetics industries.
Australia and New Zealand have been the only remaining nations to legalise the plant-based product for consumption, with countries like Japan, Germany, and Canada already leading the way.
Considered a superfood, hemp has a five-star health rating and provides a 1:3 balance of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, a complete amino acid profile including all eight essential amino acids, excellent dietary fibre and bioavailable protein.
In anticipation of the ban lift, Australian Primary Hemp has been working to develop a range of readily available, 100 per cent Australian products including pure hemp oil and protein powder produced from plants grown by local western Victorian farmers.
Later this month, East 9th Brewing is preparing to launch Australia’s first hemp beer, and another company to capitalise on the new freedoms is The Wild – a stockist of a healthy cereal called Hempnola.
Headed up by “two friends from Melbourne”, Melisa and Romana (below), the pair will supply health and food retailers and cafes with the product from 13 November.
Hemp contains less than one per cent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, meaning there is no risk of psychoactive reaction.
After rejecting proposals to amend the Food Standards Code as far back as 2002, state and federal health ministers decided hemp was safe to eat and approved its consumption in April this year.
Paul Benhaim, chief executive of Hemp Foods Australia, which currently only sells "external use only" products in Australia but exports food products, said the news was fantastic. He has been lobbying governments for 17 years.
He expects his business, which dominates 80 per cent of the domestic market, to quadruple in the next year. He has been selling hemp oil as a moisturiser, but is now able to sell it as food.