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First Step Towards Freeing The Hemp Plant

Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos today welcomed the passing of the first reading of his private members bill which seeks to remove industrial hemp from the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Mr Tanczos' bill, which treats hemp as an arable crop rather than a drug, was passed to the Primary Production select committee last night with the support of Labour, the Alliance and ACT.

"I was pleased to get support for this bill because it is a commonsense bill which would make the growing of hemp a viable option for ordinary farmers," he said.

"I was pleased that after my bill was drawn from the ballot the Minister of Health announced that experimental crops of hemp would be approved. I am concerned, though, that excessive bureaucracy and health department paranoia will make it way too expensive for most people to do trials. My bill would clear the way for the ordinary farmer to profit as well as the big boys.

"It is vitally important that New Zealanders understand the principle behind this bill - hemp is not a drug. The marijuana that is smoked is around 50 times stronger than industrial hemp. You simply cannot get high from smoking hemp."

Marijuana has levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC at around 12 - 15 per cent. Industrial hemp contains less than one per cent, while Mr Tanczos' bill would only allow hemp of below .3 per cent THC in line with a number of other jurisdictions.

Mr Tanczos said hemp was an incredible fibre crop that could be used to make a range of products including clothes, rope, particle board and paper. The seeds are used for a range of widely used products including health foods, edible oils, soaps, cosmetics and cremes.

"Hemp is four times more productive than pines in terms of producing paper and less polluting to process. It is good for the soil and requires minimal pest control or fertilizer which makes it affordable to grow and good for the environment.

"Hemp should be able to be grown in the same fashion as any other annual crop. I am pleased that the Government have agreed to hemp trials but my bill takes it that logical step further and makes what could be a great regional crop available to everyone," he said.


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