By Alfa · Apr 20, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Successful back-to-back harvests have convinced a Mid Canterbury
    partnership that growing hemp has a long-term future.

    This season's harvest from an 8ha unidentified site in Mid-Canterbury
    is being produced into hemp seed oil by Ashburton's Midlands Seed and
    Oil Seed Extractions for the domestic health and organic market.

    The companies formed a partnership two years ago to work through
    legislation surrounding the commercial production of hemp.

    Licensed by the Ministry of Health, they are the only company growing
    commercial quantities of the plant in the country.

    The Ashburton companies are in their third year of trials with a
    decision on the legal production of the crop expected to be made in
    Parliament later this year.

    Hemp has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive
    substance found in the plant's distant relative marijuana.

    Marijuana has a 25 per cent THC level, but strong licensing laws
    enforce all hemp to be rejected with a level of more than 0.35%.

    Oil Seed Extractions business manager Andrew Davidson said the hemp
    seed oil was a small market with potential to expand, subject to the
    Government's decision.

    He said the Mid-Canterbury partnership was working closely with its
    licensing authority to ensure all regulations and THC criteria were
    being strictly followed.

    "Agronomically it is performing well and we would like to continue to
    grow the crop and increase our production areas as the market
    continues to grow," he said.

    Profits were promising and with the increasing yield in the March
    harvest the returns were comparable with other growing options in
    Canterbury, he said.

    Davidson said the police were working with growers to ensure all
    visitors to the crop were signed in and there was no

    Midlands Seed director Duncan Storrier said responsible hemp growers
    were in favour of strong production regulation so consumers would
    maintain confidence in hemp products.

    "A suitable cost should not encroach on the economic feasibility of
    the hemp production process, but should be significant enough to deter
    anyone with non-legitimate interests in the production of this crop,"
    he said.

    Hemp is valued for its seed oil which has health giving properties and
    can be used for an ingredient in pestos and dips.

    The extraction rate for oil from hemp seed is between 20% to

    Oil is separated by cold pressing to ensure there is no exposure from
    cessive light, air or heat.

    Davidson said hemp seed oil contains essential fatty acids that help
    the immune system, brain health and wound healing and for insulating

    Another fatty acid in the oil helps reduce eczema, acne and
    premenstrual tension symptoms, he said.

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