Hemp growers help a push for easier licensing and export opportunities

Hemp Farms Australia > NEWS > Media > Hemp growers help a push for easier licensing and export opportunities

Updated May 15 2024 – Stock & Land

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne, with “green steel”, housing material made with hemp. Picture by Rachel Simmonds

Hemp farmers and manufacturers have showcased their products to Victoria’s politicians ahead of tomorrow’s Hemp Industry Bill debate.

Legalise Cannabis Victoria has hosted a showcase event for ministers ahead of its Hemp Industry Bill, which will be debated tomorrow, May 15.

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne said there were only six licensed hemp growers in Victoria, with less than 70 hectares, which was a small part of the $7-billion global market.

She said it was expected to grow to $18.6 billion by 2027, and Victoria and Queensland were the only states without standalone industrial hemp laws.

The proposed bill would streamline license requirements, reduce grower costs, and remove hemp from the Victorian Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act.

Bunjil Farm owner and licensed hemp farmer Lyn Stephenson, Lauriston, was one of the stallholders with hemp oil and dukkah, socks, shoes, ANZAC biscuits and more.

She said she started investigating hemp in the 90’s.

“Somebody very close to me had been diagnosed with bipolar as a result of smoking dope,” she said.

“So I started trying to understand marijuana because I didn’t have any clue about it, and researched it, and I discovered the benefits and uses of hemp.”

She said throughout the next 12 years she established the Hemp Association in Victoria, and started growing hemp at her farm, which has nearly three hectares of growing area.

“It’s not a major production, it’s to educate people because that’s the missing link,” she said.

“The potential is food, clothing, housing, and all we need is water.”

Ms Stephenson said she hoped the ministers would understand the potential of growing hemp, and support the bill to remove it from the Victorian Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act.

“Mushroom growers can grow Portobello mushrooms, brown mushrooms, they don’t need a permit to grow,” she said.

“They just need to follow the food legislation.

“But there are psychedelic mushrooms, and there is psychedelic cannabis.”

Ms Payne said New South Wales and Tasmania particularly had flourishing hemp industries, with their own legislation.

“In Victoria… If a farmer wants to apply for a hemp license, it’s a really rigorous process,” she said.

“A lot of farmers like to use hemp as a rotational crop, because it cleans your soil and loosens your soil.

“If you’re planting potatoes after your hemp is done, it helps rejuvenate your soil and you’ll have a far greater yield and better production.”

Hemp needs to be one per cent of THC or below for no psychoactive effect.

“Farmers plant seeds that they know is the variety with low THC, they wouldn’t risk it,” she said.

Ms Payne said she believed the Bill would bring economic growth, export opportunities, technological advancements and opportunities for farmers in Victoria.

She said hemp grew quickly, with little to no pesticides, sequestered carbon, and had more protein than beef.

“The main message today is just to break down that stigma,” she said.

“Hemp now has to re-emerge as an industry.”