Vasse Valley hemp farm operators Bronwyn and Chris Blake have described legislative changes to the Industrial Hemp Act as a safety net for the industrys farmers.
The amendments, which passed through parliament on August 23, increase the permitted tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in industrial hemp to one per cent, up from the previous level of 0.35 per cent.
It brings WA into line with other states and ferritories, following changes to the Food Standards and Australia and New Zealand Code in November 2017 to allow the sale of food products derived from hemp seed with a THC content of up to one per cent.
Ms Blake said the changes meant there was now a reduced risk for every crop they grew.
“Hemp plants can get stress out by environmental conditions and if it is stressed,it tends to test higher for THC, so often when we test our crops its middle of summer, its very hot, the plants may be moisture stressed and therefore a lot of farmers have found the THC readings are coming up very high and they havent been able to use their harvest,” she said.
“Now that theyve increased it to 1 per cent, we can use it, so if it does go over 0.35 per cent we can use it for food and its not a complete waste of a crop.”
Agriculture and Food minister Alannah MacTiernan said the legislation supported the fledgling agricultural industry.
“From the Ord down to the South West and Great Southern, we are seeing unprecedented support for hemp as a fibre, food and building product,” she said.
“The cross-party support for these amendments is a sign of the wide recognition for the job- creating potential of this industry for regional WA.”
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the South West would benefit significantly from the changes as the region was highly suited to the cultivation of hemp.
“John Gladstones recognised this region as being ideal in terms of climate for wine growing grapes, which he said was comparable with the best soils of France, and it is understood the hemp product is very similar in terms of what it needs,” she said.
“This is great news for diversifying the region and underlying the value of region as a hub for gourmet food and beverages as well.
“I think it is fantastic and anything we can do to remove any regulatory barriers which supports the growth of hemp, regardless of environmental conditions, is a really good thing.”