Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 
Source: The Mercury (Tasmania, Australia) 
Author: Jane Lovibond


TASMANIA'S fledgling hemp industry is poised to flourish when the Federal
Government relaxes stringent laws on hemp oil production today.

The move will clear the way for Tasmania to launch into full-scale production.

After a seven-year growing trial, local producers are elated by the decision
but yesterday warned the State Government it would have to support the
industry to ensure its viability.

Industry spokesman Brandt Teale said the other states, particularly Victoria
and Queensland, could get the jump on Tasmania if the Rundle Government
continued its head-in-the-sand attitude towards hemp production.

"Tasmanian growers have pioneered research in this industry and it would be
a disaster if the mainland states got up and ran with it before us," Mr
Teale said.

"The potential of hemp is huge for Tasmania in terms of oil production,
fabric, cosmetics and building materials.

"There are no excuses for the State Government to sit on its hands."

The relaxation on hemp laws follows a decision by the National Drugs and
Poisons Schedule Committee to abandon its strict requirement for hemp oil to
contain no trace of tetrahydrocannobil (THC) - a psychoactive chemical.

It has now adopted international standards which deem a 50mg/kg THC level to
be safe for sale and manufacturing.

The decision comes after intensive lobbying by would-be growers and
producers and effectively leaves the way clear for hemp to be grown in
Australia for use in a variety of products, except food and medicines.

Hemp industry pioneers and the state's only licensed growers, Frits and
Patsy Harmsen said the move would enable them to apply for their first
commercial licence.

Their firm, the Tasmanian Hemp Company, plans to plant two hectares, double
the area of a trial crop, in September. It will be ready for harvest next April.

Mr Harmsen hoped other growers and investors would get on board.

"Now we can dedicate some time to seeking finance," he said.

"In the past we have not been able to guarantee security for investors but
hopefully there will no further impediments."

He said hemp, for fibre or oil, should be an attractive proposition for

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett