Industrial hemp production in South Australia

Industrial hemp production is regulated in South Australia under the Industrial Hemp Act 2017 and the Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017 which came into effect on 12 November 2017.

Primary Industries and Regions SA is responsible for issuing licences to authorise the possession, cultivation, processing and supply of industrial hemp in South Australia.

What is industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is a plant or any part of a plant (including seed) from the Cannabis genus that has been specifically bred to have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the leaves and flowering heads of not more than 1%.

The very low concentration of THC in industrial hemp plants means they have none of the psychoactive (mind altering) effects associated with illicit cannabis varieties with higher THC concentrations (often called marijuana).

Industrial hemp is cultivated for seed or fibre production. Hemp fibre and pulp can be used in industrial and consumer textiles, paper and building materials, while hemp seed and hemp seed oil can be used in industrial products, cosmetics and food products.

These regulations do not cover medicinal cannabis.

Supporting SA's industrial hemp industry

The Office of Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis has been initiated by the Government of South Australia to support the establishment of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

Acting as a single point of contact the Office will work with industry and government to provide ongoing support and advice, particularly for new ventures in the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp or medicinal cannabis.

Industrial hemp is not to be confused with medicinal cannabis – which covers a range of approved, quality assured cannabis pharmaceutical grade products intended for human therapeutic use, such as tablets, oils, tinctures and other extracts. The cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis is regulated by the Commonwealth Government under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 by the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control.

Licence applications

To cultivate industrial hemp in South Australia you must hold a licence from PIRSA.

Depending on the activities to be authorised, applicants can apply for either:

  • a possession licence
  • a cultivation licence
  • or a processing licence.

Industrial hemp licence application forms are available from PIRSA by calling 1300 799 684 or emailing PIRSA.IndustrialHemp@sa.gov.au.

A licence can only be issued by PIRSA if the applicant, and each associate of the applicant, are deemed to be fit and proper persons by South Australia Police, and the area of cultivation is greater than one hectare.

The Industrial Hemp Act 2017 requires that industrial hemp must be grown from certified hemp seed. Certified hemp seed must be sourced from hemp parent plants with a concentration of THC in leaves and flowering heads of not more than 0.5% and must be accompanied with a certificate from an approved laboratory testing the parent plants.

Typically plants grown from certified hemp seed will produce an industrial hemp crop with less than the maximum allowed 1% THC. Independent crop testing is conducted by authorised PIRSA inspectors to verify that the THC content of all industrial hemp crops meets legal requirements. Crops exceeding 1% THC will no longer be industrial hemp and will potentially be referred for criminal investigation under the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

View information about:

Industrial hemp research trials

A series of industrial hemp trials are currently underway in the Riverland and South East of the state.

Led by PIRSA’s research arm, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the trials will determine the optimum sowing and growing period for five varieties passing assessment for suitability for end uses for the grain including food and the suitability of the two regions for hemp grain and fibre production.

This latest step towards industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in South Australia included assessment of grain from 20 seed varieties primarily for food end use by the University of Adelaide. Five different seed varieties, originating from China, Pakistan and Europe, as well as an Australian bred variety, were selected from the University testing for the SARDI field trials based on their human food value and performance in interstate and overseas trials.

This research program builds on earlier SARDI trials, last held in 1995.

The information generated in these trials will provide prospective growers the best advice when considering industrial hemp as a potential crop for their farming enterprise.

Planting of the 2017-18 trials will continue through to January at three week intervals.

More Information

Industrial hemp licence application forms are available from PIRSA by calling 1300 799 684 or emailing PIRSA.IndustrialHemp@sa.gov.au.

Contact

PIRSA Industrial Hemp Licensing Scheme
Phone: 1300 799 684
Email: PIRSA.IndustrialHemp@sa.gov.au

Michael McManus - Manager, Industrial Hemp Licensing Scheme
Phone: (08) 8207 7983
Email: michael.mcmanus@sa.gov.au

Page Last Reviewed: 11 Nov 2017
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