News

MP gets the lowdown on hemp and marijuana

PAGE MP Kevin Hogan admitted that until yesterday his understanding of the difference between hemp and marijuana was murky.

But after sitting down with hemp expert Paul Benhaim, who founded Bangalow-based Hemp Foods Australia, Mr Hogan said he understood that hemp was not a drug.

The problem is, at least a few of his state and federal colleagues may not see it that way.

Mr Benhaim is hoping repeated recommendations by the Food Standards authority to legalise the hemp as a food are supported by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

But despite visits to Bangalow by Federal Health Minister Fiona Nash and NSW Agricultural Minister Katrina Hodgkinson, who are both supportive, prejudice against fully legalising hemp remains at the highest levels.

Mr Benhaim said he understood both NSW and Queensland Police were against the proposal, due to it potentially interfering with their roadside drug-testing methods, despite only tiny and inactive properties of the plant's psychoactive compound THC.

HEMP food

  • Hemp seeds are high in omega 3, 6, and 9 essential oils. In the right proportions they help regulate blood clotting, body temperature, blood pressure, reproduction and immune function.
  • It contains all the amino acids which make up a complete protein, in a highly digestible form.
  • It's a plant-based protein; less energy intensive than meat-based proteins, so better for the environment.
  • Requires minimal processing.

A final decision on the Food Standards' recommendation has been postponed three times now and the next meeting by COAG on the matter is next February.

LEGAL BATTLE: Kevin Hogan, Page MP, trying some Hemp seeds at Hemp Foods Australia warehouse in Bangalow, with CEO Paul Benhaim.
LEGAL BATTLE: Kevin Hogan, Page MP, trying some Hemp seeds at Hemp Foods Australia warehouse in Bangalow, with CEO Paul Benhaim. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Mr Benhaim likened banning hemp seeds to a ban on poppy seeds because of their link to heroin.

"We just have to explain to them that this is a serious business - everywhere else in the world is using hemp as food," Mr Benhaim said.

"In Japan, they've got the best Japanese chefs using it in their restaurants.

"In the UK before I left... I was selling hemp seeds to old-age pensioners for their joint pains."

Wanting to create a sustainable Australian agriculture industry out of hemp, Mr Benhaim said he had offered to pay 50% more for local grown seeds than the ones he imports from overseas.

"We actually have talked to (local) farmers and some of the biggest grain farmers of this area are west of Casino," he said.

"We can't get enough organically grown Australian hemp seeds."

Coles and Woolworths would stock their product if it was legal, too.

Mr Hogan warned he couldn't deal with state governments, nor was the Federal Government the dominant force at COAG.

But he did promise to speak with Health Minister Fiona Nash and was "very open-minded" about the industry and its potential to create jobs.

The difference between hemp and marijuana

INDUSTRIAL hemp is a relative of the stouter, bushy version of cannabis sativa which gets you high, but it could be a world apart.

Unfortunately, until recently, it has suffered the prejudice of being related to a drug and we have missed out on its benefits.

Hemp, only has miniscule levels of THC, the compound which gives marijuana users a high.

It's a fantastically versatile material, and can be used to make clothing, paper, and even houses, to name just three.

According to website Hemp Basics, hemp paper will last longer without degrading, can be recycled many more times, and requires less toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process than tree paper.

Hemp can be harvested in just 120 days compared to the years it takes to grow a tree.

It's understood that one hectare of hemp can grow the equivalent quantity of three hectares of cotton.

Hemp can also grow in most climates throughout the world with only minor water and fertilizer requirements, no pesticides, and no herbicides.

Topics:  hemp, marijuana



Why this Lismore mum will no longer be forced to sell her home

MUCH NEEDED: Rotary Club of Summerland Sunrise donated almost $4500 to the Mitchell family for renovations to support mobility for their son Isaac, who has cerebral palsy. Pictured is Rose Mitchell and Isaac (foreground), with (from left) Past President Andrew Heap, Josephine Saunders, President Zell Bennett, and Graham Meineke (background).

A local club has made a huge difference for this family

Surfrider Foundation to give voice to Ballina surfers

BURIED: This steel anchor, a component of the planned Lighthouse Beach shark barrier, is now completely buried along with several others after two days of big swell and high tides.

A "positive outcome” from the shark barrier debacle.

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

Local Partners

What's on the small screen this week

Jessica Marais in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

A NEW romantic comedy debuts while footy codes ramp up for finals.

Airbourne talk drop bears, beer and taxes

Airbourne have a new album coming out and a new tour on the way.  Photo Contributed

Airbourne release album for the aussie battler

Pippa Middleton had 3000 private photos stolen

Author Pippa Middleton

Author's account hacked to access 3000 private photos

Gruen star discovers the body's limits in new hit TV show

Todd Sampson tries out MMA fighting during TV series BodyHack.

Gruen star pushes the limits in new TV series

Deftones return to Australia with string of dates

Deftones are back in town. Photo Contributed

World renowned nu-metal pioneers return

How the Gruen guy's t-shirts took on a life of their own

Documentary filmmaker and Gruen panellist Todd Sampson.

What started out as simple workwear has become a trademark

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

New $33 million development planned for Ballina Shire

The site of a proposed seniors living development at Skennars Head.

Plans include 211 homes, clubhouse and recreational facilities

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction