Hemp could be a staple food
HEMP could be approved for use in food after a proposal from a Sydney doctor, who was once found guilty of illegally growing cannabis plants.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand is considering whether to give approve “hemp foods” that it deems to be healthy with “no psychoactive properties”.
The proposal was put forward by Dr Andrew Katelaris, who was given a three-year good behaviour bond in 2006 for illegally growing almost 50,000 plants.
The Daily Telegraph understands Food Standards did not know about Dr Katelaris’ court history when it began assessing the proposal.
A spokeswoman for Food Standards said it was duty-bound to explore the issue, and that it had already consulted with the hemp industry in Australia.
In a consultation paper, Food Standards said the variety of cannabis being considered has “no psychoactive properties” and is already produced in Victoria and other states for clothing and science.
Growers and processors of industrial hemp face police checks when being assessed for a licence to produce crops.
According to Food Standards, hemp is healthy.
“Hempseed is a nutritious food containing sizeable amounts of protein, polyunsaturated fats and dietary fibre,” it says.
“The risk assessment concludes that the consumption of hemp foods does not pose a public health and safety risk.”
But the food standards body did note there were concerns about foods with stronger drug properties making their way into the market.
Another big issue is the concern that eating hemp foods could cause positive drug tests.
This is of particular relevance for workplaces that may have drug testing protocols, athletes and for roadside drug testing. – Food Standards Body
In 2002, Food Standards endorsed a similar proposal to legalise some hemp foods, but that decision was later quashed by a ministerial council.
The council was concerned that the endorsement could send the wrong message to consumers about the safety of cannabis.
Food Standards is seeking public comment on its consultation paper.
The Daily Telegraph was unable to contact Dr Katelaris.