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Industrial hemp now illegal as animal feed


Hemp growers are up in arms as a document released by MPI yesterday informed them feeding of iHemp to any animal is in breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act. (ACVM).

This has come as a huge shock to all in the industry, who, until this week believed they had access to the animal feed market, since the iHemp regulations came into place in 2006. This latest release by MPI sends a contradictory message from the department after changing regulations earlier this month to allow hemp seed for human consumption.

“So we have got a win for human food but lost animal feed?” questions one Rangitikei iHemp farmer “how ridiculous!”.

MPI Head of Food Safety Bryan Wilson has stated recently that “Hemp seeds are safe to eat and nutritious, they don’t produce a psychoactive or therapeutic effect”. Yet it appears that it is no longer acceptable for animals!

The ACVM legislation was changed in 2011 without any industry consultation. This is where the issue lies.

MPI has released several documents previously, including in 2004, indicating iHemp was permissible to feed to animals, in fact, they encouraged it. Former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) staffer and Deputy Chair of the hemp licensing committee (2001-2005) Tony van der Lem points out: “Proceeding with a change that will affect an industry without our consultation, is not what is expected of a professional and competent government department”.

MPI is now claiming that harm may arise to New Zealand’s export earnings, citing potential issues from countries where hemp is prohibited. “The tiniest trace amount of any cannabinoid in our milk or meat could be devastating”, they argue.

IHemp however is considered generally safe by the World Health Organisation and the UN. The current iHemp regulations specify limits on Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, a psychoactive substance) as being under 0.35%. No substance present in hemp is thought or proven to be of any detriment to the health of people or animals.

Considerable interest has arisen recently in medicinal cannabis, and this is being blamed for some of the confusion and mixed messages coming from Government. “They need to take a step back and realise we are a low THC arable crop with huge potential, and start enabling the industry”, says Deputy Chair of the NZHIA, Richard Barge.

Industry is calling for a change in legislation to exempt iHemp from the rigorous controls currently in place on controlled drugs. Hemp products are safe, and one molecule of THC or CBD should not force officials to treat us like a drug crop.

Low THC iHemp is clearly defined as not being Marijuana. It is time for the conflicting announcements made by governmental departments about iHemp, to stop. Officials need urgently to work together and with industry, to enable a brand new primary industry for New Zealand.

NZHIA farmer member Tom Welch states: “These constant roadblocks by government are killing our industry’s future! We need government to help, not hinder, for hemp to flourish to its economic and ecological potential”, he continues, “this low THC plant presents absolutely no health risks to people or animals and it is to the detriment of all New Zealanders that hemp continues to be so strictly prohibited”.

NZHIA is awaiting reply from the Prime Minister’s office on the issues at hand.

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ACVM Alert Notification 18-001 Hemp and Hemp based Products

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