In 2005 the Government approved regulations to allow the commercial cultivation of hemp (cannabis sativa) in New Zealand. Hemp farmers must apply to the Ministry of Health for a permit to cultivate, deal, breed, import or sell viable seed, and must pay a fee of NZ$511 per license, but no longer need to call their crop an experiment. Licences are issued for one year. A research and breeding licence, obtainable after the first year, allows hemp farmers to grow and breed unapproved cultivars and register new cultivars.
Commercial hemp cultivation has so far been mainly centered in the Canterbury Plains of the South Island, which provides the necessary sunshine, regular rainfall, good drainage, and access to harvesting and processing infrastructure, and the Waikato and Hawkes Bay. Most hemp is grown for its seeds, which yield a highly nutritious and valuable food oil, which is sold throughout New Zealand, used as a base for bodycare products, and exported around the world.
See the following links for more information:
The Ministry of Health is the government body in charge of approving license applications. Read their page first.
These regulations for commercial hemp licenses were issued under the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2006. The Ministry of Health’s press release about the hemp regulations is available here. If you want to grow or process hemp in New Zealand, read the regulations before applying.
To apply to grow, breed or process hemp:
To apply for a licence to grow, trade in, or process industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, or if you have any further questions contact the Controlled Drugs Advisor for Medicines Control:
- Guidelines for applicants (pdf, 65kb)
- Guidelines for testing hemp crop samples (pdf, 29kb)
- Approved cultivars of industrial hemp in New Zealand (pdf, 112kb)
Hempseed foods are banned in NZ and Australia, bizarrely due to them being “too healthy”! Apparently the Governments of Australia and New Zealand want people to hear only bad news about cannabis, so they banned hempfoods for human consumption, even though health officials said hemp foods would help reduce disease and create a healthier, longer-living population.
New Zealand allowed itself an exception for hemp seed oil, and food products containing hemp seed oil, while the seeds can still be used or exported for animal feed or other purposes.
The ban on hemp foods has been under review for several years. Objections to allowing hemp foods now seem to be based around a “risk” that consumers of hemp foods could test positive for THC in workplace or roadside drug tests. However, our Ministry of Agriculture – after consulting the Ministries of Health & Justice and the Police – has said that is unlikely to ever happen and that hemp has “the potential for positive economic benefits from permitting low THC hemp-seed foods in New Zealand both in terms of the nutritive value of hemp seed products, and the suitable growing conditions in New Zealand.”
NZHIA has more information and would-be hemp farmers should seriously consider joining.
Existing commercial hemp businesses
Commercial hemp farmers include Oil Seed Extractors (Canterbury), The Hemp Farm (Waikato) and Hemp Technologies NZ (Taranaki). Other NZ hemp businesses include Hemptech and The Hempstore, both in Auckland.