Victoria stakeholders urge development of strong regulations to establish robust hemp industry

Victoria hemp industry stakeholders advocate for robust regulations to establish thriving sector

Industry leaders in Victoria are calling for the loosening of regulations surrounding hemp in order for the sector to reach its full potential in the Australian state.

A parliamentary inquiry is currently underway in the state’s Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee, studying the potential for the hemp industry. The committee is expected to release a final report and recommendations to parliament this month.

Stakeholders have identified several key steps that need to be taken before a fully developed hemp industry can be established in Victoria. Firstly, the extraction of hemp flowers should be legalized for the production of cannabinoids like CBD, as well as other beneficial compounds such as lignans, pectins, bioflavonoids, and anthocyanins.

Overhaul is crucial

Hemp advocates argue that overly strict regulations and expensive monitoring requirements need to be overhauled, along with the implementation of policies that prioritize safety, quality, and sustainability. In the construction industry, specific regulations and building standards that meet consumer expectations and insurance requirements are necessary.

Fiona Patten, the leader of the Reason Party and former MP, recently told the committee that Victoria should follow the example set by Tasmania, which is currently developing its own set of hemp laws.

“Regulatory reform does not incur any costs for the government,” Patten stated. “Queensland and Victoria are the only two states that treat hemp cultivation as a drug. Every other state has its own standalone Hemp Act, viewing it as an industrial agricultural crop.”

Room for expansion

The hemp industry in Victoria is currently small, with only six farmers cultivating less than 200 hectares. However, proponents argue that if 5,000 hectares of industrial hemp were planted annually, it could produce 50,000 tons of hemp hurd and fiber for use in natural building materials, which are currently in short supply, causing prices to rise.

Advocates believe that once the government establishes a solid legal framework for the hemp industry, it will pave the way for economic growth, employment opportunities, and innovation.

Environmental advantages

Stakeholders have suggested that a thriving hemp industry could help alleviate some of the economic impact resulting from the government’s decision to cease native logging by the end of 2023. This decision is estimated to cost the state’s economy around AU$110 million (US$73 million; €68 million). The government cited concerns over deforestation and loss of biodiversity as reasons for ending native timber logging.

The federal government has recognized the potential of industrial hemp as a valuable tool in combating climate change across Australia, where farming contributes approximately 13% of CO2 emissions. Australia has committed to reducing overall emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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