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Industrial hemp trials at last!

27 April 2001
Industrial hemp trials at last!

Green Party co-leader Rod Donald today welcomed Health Minister Annette King's decision to allow trials of industrial hemp in time for the next planting season, saying it was a commonsense move which was long overdue.

"The Greens are really pleased that finally a plant which has so much potential in so many different areas is being given a chance in New Zealand," said Mr Donald.

"Hemp is grown on a large scale in China, India, France and Hungary and trials and new industries are establishing in England, South Africa and Australia.

"We are disappointed it has taken so long in New Zealand but this is a positive move and we welcome it."

Hemp is multi-use crop with its fibre used for paper, cloth and fibre board and its seeds pressed for oil which is used as a health food and in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

"Farmers, processors and environmentalists have been lobbying successive governments for years to give permission for industrial hemp to be grown in New Zealand. We got nowhere with National, despite the Ministry of Health recommending that trials be allowed back in 1997," said Mr Donald.

"There has been no good reason for preventing hemp trials in New Zealand and fears linking hemp with cannabis are without any foundation. Cannabis which is smoked is at least 20 times more potent than hemp, which is useless as any kind of drug."

Mr Donald said the Greens' only concern was that the costs of compliance to ensure crops are not tampered with is not prohibitive.

"When I was in France last year hemp was grown in open paddocks with no problems and I would hate New Zealand farmers to be put off diversifying into hemp because they have to build expensive boundary fences."

The Greens say today's announcement paves the way for the passage of Nandor Tanczos' members bill to remove industrial hemp from the Misuse of Drugs Act.

"There is no good reason why industrial hemp should be treated as an illegal substance and the sooner we can get this plant out of the Act and under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture the sooner farmers can diversify into what has the potential to become a very profitable crop."

ENDS

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