Tasmania’s Draft Bill Proposes Crop Destruction for Exceeding 1.0% THC Limit

Tasmania’s Draft Bill Proposes Mandatory Destruction of Crops Exceeding 1.0% THC

Tasmanian hemp crops that contain more than 1.0% THC will be required to be destroyed according to a preliminary bill aimed at updating regulations in the hemp industry in the Australian state.

Growers will receive a directive from the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) to destroy non-compliant crops. Failure to comply with such directives will result in the government seizing and destroying the crops at the expense of the grower, with potential fines under the Draft Industrial Hemp Amendment Bill 2023.

The NRE will also have the discretion to allow alternative measures “in cases where the Secretary is satisfied that the (non-compliant) crop was grown in good faith,” according to the proposed legislation.

1% THC limit

According to the original 2015 hemp bill in Tasmania, industrial hemp can only be grown from certified hemp varieties that typically have a maximum THC content of 0.5%. However, the maximum limit in harvested crops is 1.0% – which serves as the dividing line between hemp and marijuana. All hemp crops in Tasmania are subject to THC content testing.

The main objective of the amendment is to ensure a clearer distinction between marijuana and hemp, and this comes more than a year after the NRE agreed to consider changes proposed by stakeholders.

The existing law grants licenses to the NRE for the production, cultivation, manufacturing, and research of hemp for cultivation seed, food grain, and fiber in Tasmania.

Police involvement

The state is currently seeking feedback on the amendment, which would modify the Industrial Hemp Act 2015 and the Industrial Hemp Amendment Regulations 2016, during a public consultation period that ends in October.

Regulation of hemp cannabinoid production for CBD and other extracts is overseen by the federal Office of Drug Control.

Under the proposed amendment, the NRE Secretary may request the assistance of police agencies “to determine the suitability of an applicant” for a hemp license. “The Commissioner of Police must investigate and report to the Secretary on any matters related to the license application as requested by the Secretary,” the amendment states.

Research licenses

The bill would also change the language regarding the issuance of research licenses. The term “special license” would be changed to “special research license” to better reflect the specific research purposes of these permits, which are granted for studies on hemp varieties with THC content exceeding 1.0%.

To be eligible for research licenses, applicants must demonstrate that their projects will be based on scientifically valid research methods, identify the potential benefits to the hemp industry, and ensure the implementation of adequate safety and security measures to prevent theft or loss.

The proposed amendment would also:

  • Strengthen the criteria for license applicants based on background checks, aligning with similar criteria for poppy-growing licenses in Tasmania.
  • Include police officers under the definition of “inspectors” in the original hemp law, allowing police officers to conduct investigations without requiring appointment by the Secretary of the DNR&E.
  • Authorize police officers to possess and supply hemp.
  • Establish a licensing category for horticultural use to “facilitate better utilization of hemp by-products in a circular economy,” such as mulch or compost.
  • Stakeholders have expressed that these changes will generally benefit producers by enabling them to take advantage of growing markets, consumer interest in sustainable products, and evolving attitudes toward cannabis.

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