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Hemp seeds as food

(June 2017)

Proposal to permit foods derived from hemp

In April 2017 ministers responsible for food regulation considered FSANZ's approval of a proposal to permit the sale of low-THC hemp seed foods. Ministers did not seek a review of the decision. This means the Food Standards Code has been amended to permit the sale of low THC hemp seed foods.

While the changes to the Code came into effect from 12 November 2017, jurisdictions will need to amend respective legislation to support the legal sale of low-THC hemp seed foods. Contact your local jurisdiction to check whether these changes have been made.


Hemp or industrial hemp is a cannabis plant species (Cannabis sativa). Historically, hemp has been used as a source of fibre and oil. Hemp seeds and oil are used in other countries, including in Europe, Canada and the United States of America, in a range of foods. Hemp seeds contain protein, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

Cannabis extracts have also been used in medicine for a variety of ailments. However hemp does not have therapeutic effects because it has low levels of cannabidiol, the active component of cannabis extracts used for medicinal purposes.

Hemp is different to other varieties of C. sativa which are commonly referred to as marijuana as it contains no, or very low levels of THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana.

Hemp is cultivated worldwide, including in Australia and New Zealand (under strict licensing arrangements) and is currently used in Australia and New Zealand as a source of fibre for clothing and building products.

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