Industrial Hemp Australia managing director John Hall displays a few of the eco-friendly hemp building products.
Industrial Hemp Australia managing director John Hall displays a few of the eco-friendly hemp building products. Max Fleet

Hemp industry seeks green light

BUNDABERG residents could one day be sprinkling hemp over their salads, cooking with the oil and enjoying the plant as milk in their morning cuppas, if local grower John Hall gets his way.

Mr all's company is currently seeking investors to back plans to build a hemp food production plant in Monto.

But because of governmental legal barriers, the general manager cannot sell the food in Australia - yet.

"It's frustrating for us and shareholders, but we'll persevere until we get it," Mr Hall said.

"We think if we push for another application, with the changing attitudes - particularly in Canada - it could be (legal) in the near future."

Mr Hall intends to sell the food products overseas while the company, Industrial Hemp Australia, waits for the right to sell in this country.

After 12 years of cultivating different plants, researchers at the Bundaberg-based centre have invented a test that quickly shows hemp that contains the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC is the compound in the plant that makes people intoxicated.

Mr Hall said the company has varieties of hemp with almost no THC in them at all, because researchers were able to cull the plants with the chemical compound in them before they go through a breeding cycle.

“We will have zero THC content in any of the products so there's no risk of contamination,” he said.

The researcher said it is this break-through that will go a long way to getting hemp-based food approved in Australia.

Mr Hall said the health benefits of the products included high levels of omega three, six and nine, which is good for blood circulation.

Hemp oil is low in saturated fat but high in unsaturated fat.

“And unlike gluten and lactose, hemp has no allergies identified with the protein,” Mr Hall said.

But Mr Hall said food products were not all the company was focused on, with plans to build factories dedicated to making fibre for building products too.

The company has chosen Monto for its first food production factory and has already consulted with grain growers throughout the North Burnett region about planting the crop.

“We will still be growing in Bundaberg, but the North Burnett region is very exciting for us,” Mr Hall said.

The project has the full support of North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Joy Jensen.

“The one glaring omission in the North Burnett is a lack of diversity in the economy,” Ms Jensen said.

“And this project has the ability to diversify.”

With Monto having lost a lot of industries in the past, including dairy and mining, the mayor said the hemp food production plant and growing were positives for the area.

“I believe growers will get behind the project because it will do a lot for the North Burnett,” Ms Jensen said.

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