Greens Up The Stakes On Industrial Hemp
Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos said that his private member's bill pulled from the ballot today puts real pressure on the Government to make sure hemp trials are underway for the next growing season.
The member's bill would remove industrial hemp - a variety of the cannabis plant with low levels of THC (less than 0.3 percent) - from the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Cannabis which is smoked has THC levels of around 12 percent.
"This bill was drafted in frustration after years of fruitless lobbying by the Green Party to have trials of industrial hemp in New Zealand," said Mr Tanczos.
"Hemp is a superb cash crop in many countries around the world and there is no good reason why it shouldn't be grown here."
Mr Tanczos said although the Government was making the right noises about the planting of industrial hemp in time for the next growing season, his bill was the next legal step required to get a serious industry underway.
"This bill both places pressure on the Government to get these long overdue trials underway and makes it clear that industrial hemp is not a drug but a useful crop that can be used to make a wide range of products," he said.
Fibre from the hemp plant can be used for rope, fabric, paper and fibre board. The seeds can be pressed for cosmetics, soaps and health foods.
Mr Tanczos said there were farmers and manufacturers around the country who were just waiting for the word so that they could start growing and processing hemp.
"Many people have been waiting a long time for the Government to recognise what could potentially be a crop that could contribute a great deal to New Zealand's local, rural and national economies," said Mr Tanczos.
"I genuinely expect this bill to be supported by every party in the House that has any sort of commitment to regional development."