Hemp laws restrict growth

Industrial hemp grower Andrew Kavasilas inspects a crop on one of his two hemp farms on the.
Industrial hemp grower Andrew Kavasilas inspects a crop on one of his two hemp farms on the. Jerad Williams

IT MIGHT be the secret to good health, but at the moment it is illegal to consume hemp-based foods in Australia.

Hemp seed contains all the essential amino and fatty acids and can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted or made into milk, according to Nimbin-based hemp-growing pioneer Andrew Kavasilas.

Unlike marijuana, it has very low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance.

Mr Kavasilas is currently trialling food-grade hemp production on two Northern Rivers farms, under special permits from the State and Federal governments.

Mr Kavasilas believes the Northern Rivers could be a leader in the fledgling hemp industry as a supplier of food.

“It is the most nutritious seed. It has high levels of omega three, six and nine,” Mr Kavasilas said.

However, for this to happen it would require a change to the law.

In 2008, the NSW Government legalised the use of industrial hemp for fibre, but not for consumption.

This decision is holding the industry back, Mr Kavasilas said, because both food and fibre production were required to make it viable.

Mr Kavasilas has been trialling hemp for more than 12 years. His most recent trials are with the European variety monoecious, which is fast-growing and can be used for fibre and food.

The hemp is being grown between rows of macadamias on both farms, but the plant also has the potential to be grown on a broad scale and can be harvested with modified farming machinery.

A field day and membership drive for the Northern Rivers Hemp Association will be held on Saturday, February 19, at Eltham.

For start times and directions call Andrew Kavasilas on 0427 897 968 or 6689 1998.

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