Hemp Industry Act 2019

On 8 August 2019, the Hemp Industry Bill 2019 (‘the Bill’) was debated and passed by the Northern Territory’s Legislative Assembly. With its passage and assent the Hemp Industry Act 2019 (‘the new Act’) will be created.

Upon its commencement the new Act will provide the authorising environment and framework for the regulation of low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Cannabis species (i.e. containing less than or equal to 1% THC content) for food, fibre and seed production.

Industrial hemp plants differ from regular hemp species in that they contain very low levels of THC, and if consumed foods and products made from industrial hemp have no psycho-active effects on individuals.

Commencement of the new Act will not take place until the supporting Hemp Industry Regulations (‘the Regulations’) are finalised and approved by Government. It is expected that the new Act and Regulations will commence in readiness for the 2020 growing season.

Key features of the new Act

  • Establishes a licencing regime that will enable:
    • the lawful possession, cultivation, processing or supply of industrial hemp for the commercial production of industrial hemp products including food, fibre and seed; and
    • the lawful possession, cultivation, processing or supply of industrial hemp for scientific research, instruction, analysis or study.
  • Sets out how the responsibility for specified administrative powers of the Act are shared between the Chief Executive Officer of the regulatory agency and the Commissioner of Police.
  • Provides exemptions where applicable to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 to allow for licenced persons to undertake activities in accordance with the new Act.
  • Provides authorised inspectors under the new Act with appropriate powers of entry, inspection and seizure to allow for the effective enforcement of provisions to ensure compliance.
  • Provides for offences and penalties for contravening specified provisions of the new Act.

Background on industrial hemp

  • Hemp fibre is used for manufacturing of textiles, ropes and lines, paper and building materials. Hemp grain is a highly nutritious food source, either as a whole grain, in the form of an emulsified cake, flour, or pressed oil.
  • Other value-added products derived from hemp include health lotions, sunscreens, shampoos, soaps, beer, biofuels, animal bedding, stock feed, insulation and car mouldings.
  • Industrial hemp is an entirely different product than medicinal cannabis and the new Act specifically excludes the extraction or diversion of any cannabinoids for medicinal purposes. Regulation of medicinal cannabis in Australia is under Commonwealth’s Narcotic Drugs Act 1967.
  • In Australia the industrial hemp growing sector is in its infancy and consequently needs a reliable source of future seed supply of accredited grain or fibre varieties.
  • The Northern Territory may have certain geographic and climatic advantages for growing industrial hemp, in particular around supplying seed for hemp growing regions in southern Australia.
  • The new Act will enable commercial and research interests to investigate and develop an NT hemp sector, facilitating investment and job creation opportunities in regional areas.

Further information

The new Act, along with copies of the Explanatory Speech and the Explanatory Statement, can be viewed on the Northern Territory Legislation website.

For any further information contact the Department of Primary Industry and Resources on (08) 8999 2143 or email to info.dpir@nt.gov.au.

Last updated: 09 August 2019