Australia and New Zealand’s Food Standards agency (FSANZ) has concluded that hemp foods containing considering low levels of THC (the psychoactive substance in marijuana) are safe for widespread consumption as consumers would not feel any effects associated with ingesting marijuana.
“FSANZ has not identified any safety concerns relating to the consumption of hemp foods,” says the report issued earlier this month.
FSANZ recently sought public comments on an application submitted by a deregistered Sydney doctor (who is in appeal against his deregistration for providing patients with medical marijuana), Andrew Katelaris, who is seeking to remove Australia’s ban on foods or beverages derived from cannabis.
Katelari claims that industrial hemp seeds contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than fish, and are essential because the body cannot produce those fats on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids have a range of health benefits including regulating brain function and reducing inflammation, which is often a precursor to serious illnesses including heart disease and stroke.
Katelari says, “We’re looking at making ice cream and health food bars. Our vision is that anything you can do with soy beans or dairy you can do better with hemp seed,” which is already widely available throughout the U.S.
But according to FSANZ, “various government stakeholders” have concerns about high-THC seeds entering the food chain, or advertisers making false claims that hemp foods have psychoactive properties or that they could trigger positive drug-test results. According to the report, “labeling and advertising of hemp foods could suggest psychoactive properties,” the report says “Concerns have also been expressed about positive drug tests for cannabis use,” of particular concern for workplace environments that regularly employ drug-testing protocols.
In 2002, FSANZ overturned a recommendation to approve hemp as fears that it would “send the wrong message to the community” were high.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger