This page is intended to answer some of the frequently asked questions about Tasmania’s industrial hemp licensing scheme.
What is industrial hemp?
Industrial hemp is a plant or any part of a plant (including seed) from the genus Cannabis that has been specifically bred to have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the leaves and flowering heads of not more than 1%.
Industrial hemp can only be grown in Tasmania from certified hemp seed, which is seed certified in accordance with the regulations as seed that will typically produce hemp plants with a concentration of THC in leaves and flowering heads of not more than 0.5%.
What is viable industrial hemp?
A viable seed is one which is capable of germination and growing under suitable conditions.
What is industrial hemp used for?
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.
How does the licensing scheme operate?
DPIPWE is responsible for administering the Industrial Hemp Act 2015
which authorises the supply, cultivation, manufacture and research of industrial hemp in Tasmania.
Applicants can apply to DPIPWE for a licence. A National Police Check is required.
Licences can be issued if DPIPWE is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to be involved in the industrial hemp industry.
What activities are authorised by each licence type?
There are five industrial hemp licence types that can be issued in Tasmania with viable industrial hemp:
1. A licence to supply provides authorisation to:
- Supply industrial hemp seed and other plant material; and
- Possess and store viable industrial hemp seed for commercial purposes.
2. A licence to cultivate provides authorisation to:
- Possess viable industrial hemp seed;
- Cultivate industrial hemp from certified seed;
- Harvest industrial hemp seed and other plant material;
- Dry harvest industrial hemp seed and other plant material;
- Store harvested industrial hemp material; and
- Supply industrial hemp seed and other plant material for commercial purposes
3. A licence to manufacture provides authorisation to:
- Possess viable industrial hemp seed for processing purposes
- Clean and/or treat viable industrial hemp seed to make it non-viable
- Clean and/or dehull viable industrial hemp seed, including for food production
- Clean and/or press viable industrial hemp seed, including for food production for commercial purposes.
4. A licence to research provides authorisation to supply, cultivate or manufacture industrial hemp as outlined above for research purposes.
5. A combined licence provides authorisation to undertake multiple activities to supply, cultivate or manufacture industrial hemp under a single licence for research or commercial purposes.
When is a licence not required?
An industrial hemp licence is not required to possess, manufacture or supply:
- Non-viable industrial hemp seeds
- Products derived from industrial hemp seeds (eg industrial hemp seed oil)
- Harvested industrial hemp stalks that have been stripped of their leaves, flowers and seeds
- Processed products derived from industrial hemp stalks (eg textiles, building materials).
Why do I need a licence?
Industrial hemp plants often have the same visual appearance as higher THC producing varieties of cannabis. A licensing scheme provides a distinction between the legal cultivation of industrial hemp by licensed growers, and cannabis crops grown as an illicit drug. Independent crop testing is conducted by authorised DPIPWE inspectors to verify that the THC content of all industrial hemp crops meets legal requirements.
How long does my licence last?
Up to five years.
How much does a licence cost?
There are no licence fees.
Is there a limit to the number of licences that can be issued?
Is there a minimum or maximum area that can be cultivated under a licence?
Once I have a licence can I grow low-THC cannabis wherever I want?
No. The licence holder must only cultivate at the premises described on the licence and Intent to Grow. A licensee may apply to amend a licence to add new areas.
Do I need to own the property where I propose to grow low-THC cannabis?
No, but the department may require proof that you are fully responsible for the management of the crop whilst it is being cultivated (eg evidence of a lease).
Why do I need a police check?
It is a requirement of the Industrial Hemp Act 2015
that all licence holders must undertake a police check (National Police Certificate or Tasmanian Prescribed Record).
A licence may be refused if the applicant has been found guilty of a drug-related offence or an offence that is considered to make the applicant unsuitable to be involved in the possession, cultivation and supply of industrial hemp.
Can I use a previously provided and approved police check?
Police checks are undertaken as a search of historical records and must be updated regularly. Those seeking to obtain an industrial hemp licence may have had police checks undertaken for other purposes.
If an applicant has a compliant and relevant police check (National Police Certificate) which has been granted within the previous three months of the licence application being received then a new police check will not be required for the duration of the licence period.
Can I apply for both a licence to cultivate industrial hemp and a licence to manufacture on the one application?
Yes. Licences can be issued for a combination of activities.
Do I need a licence to supply if I am growing under contract?
No. A cultivation licence includes a condition to enable growers to supply industrial hemp seed and plant material to a person authorised to possess industrial hemp, so a supply licence is not required.
Why do I need to complete an annual Intent to Grow form for years 2-5 for cultivation when I have a five year licence?
Licences to cultivate are issued for up to five years.
Crop information, such as location, seed variety and crop size, changes from year to year so needs to be provided to the Department on an annual basis to ensure that adequate compliance activity can be undertaken.
It also provides the opportunity for licence holders to confirm they will not be growing in a particular season.
The forms are prepopulated so there should be of minimal disruption to industry.
What is a PID and where do I find this?
A PID is a unique property identification number for any rateable property.
Your PID can be found on your property rate notice.
How do I find paddock coordinates?
The coordinates are located on the bottom left hand side of the page and are listed as a six digit number followed by the letter ‘E’ and a seven digit number followed by the letter ‘N’.
Why do all industrial hemp crops need to be tested for THC?
A requirement of the cultivation licence conditions is for every industrial hemp crop grown to be tested for levels of THC at the expense of the grower. This is required as evidence that the industrial hemp crop is being produced with THC levels below 1% as required by the Act and regulations.
Agronomic factors such as soil type, nutrition, sunlight hours and moisture can all influence THC levels and result in levels rising above 1% unintentionally. Testing also provides authorities with evidence that illegal (high THC) forms of cannabis are not being grown.
Usually one sample will be collected for each crop sown except where multiple crops of the same variety and seed source are sown on the same property and these sowings are sufficiently similar.
Research trials and breeding programs with multiple treatments will still need to be inspected but testing will be on a random ad-hoc basis.
What happens if my crop has not been sampled?
If you think that your crop has not been sampled please notify DPIPWE.
Sampling and testing results can be required for industrial hemp to be sold and exported so further testing would be required if this initial test is missed.
What happens if my test result is over 1%?
The likely cause of the elevated THC level will be important in determining what action will be taken, as agronomic factors outside the licence holder’s control may be responsible. Crops found to exceed the 1% THC level will be destroyed in accordance with the Act at the discretion of DPIPWE and Tasmania Police.
What happens if I don’t comply with the Act and licence conditions?
Non-compliance with the Act and licence conditions can result in the suspension or cancellation of a licence.
Where can I source certified industrial hemp seed?
The licence holder is responsible for finding industrial hemp seed.
DPIPWE is not a seed supplier and is unable to assist with the acquisition of seed.
Industrial hemp seed may be available from one of the hemp seed retailers located within Tasmania or interstate.
Seed can also be imported but additional costs may be incurred due to the import requirements of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Office of Drug Control and Biosecurity Tasmania.
Regardless of the source of industrial hemp seed, it must be certified.
Who can I sell my industrial hemp to?
The licence holder is responsible for finding a market for the industrial hemp seed and/or plant material cultivated under the licence.
Viable industrial hemp seed and plant material that includes leaves, flowers and seeds can only be supplied to a person authorised to possess industrial hemp.
Can I sell bales of industrial hemp straw as garden mulch to the general public?
No. Bales of industrial hemp straw may contain viable industrial hemp seed that may germinate at unauthorised sites, which is not legally allowed and could undermine the reputation of the industrial hemp industry.
Viable industrial hemp seed and plant material can only be supplied to a person authorised to possess industrial hemp.
The Department recognises the potential value of industrial hemp straw to industry and is working through this issue with Hemp Association of Tasmania.
Industrial hemp straw that has been subject to a process that renders the seed non-viable (eg heat treatment, de-hulling) is able to be sold as mulch to the general public.
Can food produced from industrial hemp seed be sold for human consumption?
The sale of food derived from the seeds of industrial hemp in Australia became legal on 12 November 2017.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand approved that industrial hemp seed foods are safe for consumption provided they contain no more than the prescribed THC level.
Hemp seed foods may provide a useful alternative dietary source of nutrients and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.
Leaves, flowering heads and other parts of the low-THC hemp plant must not be sold as food for human consumption.
Is hemp seed oil a drug?
No. Hemp seed oil is an extract of cannabis seeds and does not contain any extracts from the cannabis plant. In addition, hemp seed oil does not contain anything more than trace amounts of cannabinoids. If the label of a 'hemp seed oil' product states that it contains cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), it is not hemp seed oil. The product may have been mislabelled, mixed with hemp oil or adulterated with other cannabinoids.
Hemp oil that is a medicinal cannabis product may only be accessed by prescription from a medical specialist who has been granted Special Access Scheme Approval or is an Authorised Prescriber.
Products must be legally produced and manufactured to appropriate quality standards. Commonwealth approval to supply and, where necessary, import a medicinal cannabis product is granted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Office of Drug Control
How is industrial hemp different to marijuana?
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).
How is industrial hemp different to medicinal cannabis?
The term medicinal cannabis 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 Office of Drug Control
If the licence applicant has a poppy licence and would like to align the periods of their poppy grower’s and industrial hemp licences so that a single police check can be used for both applications, the applicant can provide details of their poppy licence and both licences will be issued for the same period.