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Approval in principle of industrial hemp trials

27 July 2000 Media Statement

Minister approves in principle industrial hemp trials

Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle has given her officials the go ahead to start negotiating with industry representatives to develop trial plots of industrial hemp.

Phillida Bunkle said industrial hemp offered a unique opportunity for regional development in New Zealand. She has agreed in principle to the trials going ahead.

"More work will need to be done on developing a framework for how the trials will be conducted and which government agency will be responsible for controlling the trial plots through a licensing system.

"Industrial hemp trials can be conducted under existing legislation, but it would still need government approval for the product to be grown here commercially. If the trials are successful, we envisage removing hemp from the Misuse of Drugs Act and regulating it under the Customs and Excise Act." she said.

"I am personally convinced that hemp is a wonderful natural product and it presents us with an excellent opportunity for economic development in many regions currently experiencing difficulties.

"My officials are confident hemp crops would be comfortably controlled within the existing licensing framework under the Customs and Excise Act."

An inter-government agency working party which has been looking at the industrial hemp issue, gave its approval for trials to proceed. Industrial representatives will now meet with Customs staff on August 21 to negotiate a framework for the trials.

"The trial period would enable us to find out what soils and conditions hemp is best suited to, and it also gives us a chance to clear up a lot of the misunderstandings about hemp – it is not cannabis."

New Zealand imports more than $1million in hemp products. Ms Bunkle said trials could start as early as this summer.


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