NSW Hemp Industry

Hemp Industry Taskforce

On Thursday 8 February the Minister for Agriculture announced the establishment of a NSW Hemp Industry Taskforce.

This Taskforce will explore the barriers and opportunities for growth of the industrial hemp industry in NSW and identify opportunities to streamline and improve the industrial hemp legislative framework and inform an industry development plan.

The Taskforce will identify the short- medium- and long-term objectives of the NSW industrial hemp industry, including:

  • The role industrial hemp could play in the transition to a net zero, circular economy in NSW.
  • The supply and value chains required to support increased crop production, or other barriers to production and development in NSW.
  • Identifying legislative barriers to and opportunities for expanding industrial hemp production in NSW.
  • Consider opportunities to harmonise industrial hemp regulation nationally.

Membership of the Taskforce has been drawn from across the industrial hemp industry, with representatives experienced in the cultivation, processing, distribution, and use of industrial hemp products.

The Taskforce will only consider the cultivation and supply of low-THC hemp grown under the NSW Industrial Hemp Act 2008.

The Taskforce will not consider the production of hemp for use as a therapeutic good (e.g., medicines) as this is restricted and requires a licence from the Office of Drug Control (Cwlth) and approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Cwlth). The Taskforce will also not consider the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

Communiques

A Communique will be released following each meeting of the Taskforce.

Industry development plan

The Taskforce is informing an industry development plan. The department will consult with the hemp industry more broadly once the Plan has been drafted. This is likely to occur in mid-late 2024.

More information

If you have a question regarding the Taskforce, please email agri.policy@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Hemp Industry Act 2008‚Äč

The Hemp Industry Act 2008 (the Act), authorises and regulates the cultivation and supply of low-THC hemp for commercial production and other legitimate uses.

In July 2023, amendments were made to the Hemp Industry Act 2008 (the Act).

These amendments are designed to make the legislation clearer and increase industry confidence to access licences for the cultivation or supply of low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp under the Act.

Find out more about the amendments

Growing Low THC Hemp in NSW

Low THC hemp has been around for many years and has a wide range of uses. Low THC hemp has the added advantage of being considered a "green" environmentally friendly crop, as it requires less irrigation water and use of agricultural chemicals than other fibre crops.

Hemp cannot be grown (commercially or for research) in NSW without a license issued by the department. The licensing scheme allows commercial production of low THC hemp, as well as facilitating the development of an industry in processing, manufacturing, and marketing in NSW:

  • Licenses allow activities to be carried out under specific conditions. These activities include commercial production, research into the alternate uses of low THC hemp, and plant breeding programs to develop new or improved strains of low THC hemp.
  • License conditions mean production can take place without risk to drug law enforcement. These conditions include strict eligibility and suitability requirements for licence applicants.

A licensed business must comply with certain conditions, including complying with the Hemp Production in New South Wales License Manual ( PDF, 1119.93 KB). This manual outlines requirement relating to:

  • licensing and permitted activities
  • planting notifications
  • sampling
  • reporting and documentation (Hemp license register).

Before undertaking production of a hemp-based product it is important to seek further information to ensure that your proposed activities and products are compliant with New South Wales and Commonwealth law. It is also advisable to seek independent legal advice.

In some areas development consent is required for irrigated crops under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. For more information, please contact your local council.

New license applications

To apply for a licence, complete the application form below, using the guidelines for assistance. An application can take up to four months to be completed, depending on the complexity and time take to secure relevant documents and checks.

Changes to an existing license

Please contact the Licensing Unit to discuss changes to your existing licence.

Compliance Audits in the Hemp Industry

To ensure all licence holders under the Hemp Industry Act 2008 meet their requirements with the Act and Regulation, the department has implemented a risk-based compliance audit program.

The audit program allows the department to monitor compliance and take graduated and proportional measures to address non-compliance, without placing new or excessive burden on licensees. Having a structured audit and compliance program also assures the industry that a robust system is in place to maintain the integrity of the industry, which is consistently applied, and is risk based.

To verify that the requirements are being met, the department carries out regular audits of licensed operators. The audit includes an on-site visit that assesses that:

  1. The business is conducting activities permitted on the certificate of licence
  2. The business is adhering to the licence conditions
  3. Licence register is being maintained and filled out accurately and correctly
  4. Employee’s details are current and correct
  5. Action taken to address previous issues or audit items.

The auditor provides a report to the licensed operator, which outlines the operations that have been assessed, and identifies areas not fully compliant that need corrective action. If critical non-compliances is identified during the audit, the audit is rated as unacceptable (PDF, 104.15 KB), and enforcement action may be taken.

For further detail regarding the audit and audit process, please refer to the audit guidance fact sheet (PDF, 170.04 KB).

For more information

Contact the Biosecurity and Food Safety Licensing and Accreditation Services team for more information on the licensing arrangement in NSW:

Postal  Address: PO Box 232, Taree NSW 2430

Phone: (02) 6552 3000

Email: bfs.admin@dpi.nsw.gov.au

For general information about the hemp industry in NSW, please call us on 1300 552 406 or email agri.policy@dpi.nsw.gov.au