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Hemp still off the table, despite Govt's medical marijuana move


South Australia will remain the only jurisdiction in the country that bans industrial hemp crops – despite the State Government’s endorsement of a medical marijuana industry yesterday.

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The Government publicly backed the development of a medical marijuana industry for South Australia yesterday, after an Adelaide medical marijuana company revealed it had received vital State Government support for a federal licence to do so.

But the State Government says the SA ban on growing hemp – a variety of cannabis that contains very low levels of the psychoactive chemical THC and can be used to produce clothing, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation and biofuel, among other products – will continue indefinitely.

“The State Government is in the early stages of exploring the development of the medicinal cannabis industry in South Australia and there is no move at this stage to legalise industrial hemp in SA,” a spokesperson told InDaily.

South Australia is the only state in Australia that prohibits the cultivation of hemp crops for industrial production.

All other Australian states, plus the Australian Capital Territory, have licensing schemes that regulate industrial hemp industries, with strict rules regulating the amount of THC that can be legally present in hemp crops.

Greens MLC Tammy Franks said industrial hemp was a potential jobs creator for South Australia.

“There’s an enormous market here that we’re missing out on,” she said.

“There are so many products you can make from hemp [and] it’s less water intensive than some of the alternatives.

“Why on earth would we be turning our noses up at any industry when we’ve got a jobs crisis?”

Opposition Agriculture spokesperson David Ridgway said that he was not necessarily opposed to lifting the hemp industry ban in South Australia, but he was yet to be convinced it would be a viable industry if it were legalised.

Ridgway, whose proposal to end the prohibition on opium crops in South Australia received government support last year, told InDaily “I’m just not sure it’s an industry that’s got legs”.

He said he had been advised by former South Australian premier Rob Kerin that, 20 years ago, research into the viability of hemp crops had shown South Australia’s climate was not ideal for its cultivation.

“We need to make sure there’s a viable industry for government to support,” said Ridgway.

He said, however, that he would be happy to support ending the ban if he could be convinced it would be profitable.

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