NSW Hemp Industry

The Hemp Industry Act 2008 (the Act), allows the cultivation and supply of low THC hemp fibre and seed production in NSW, under controlled conditions.

THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the mind-altering substance present in marijuana. Although it looks the same, low THC hemp, as the name implies, has very low concentrations of THC and is of no value as a drug. Low THC hemp is not the same as medical cannabis (the Australian Government, through the Office of Drug Control, is responsible for production and supply of cannabinoids for human therapeutic purposes).

Licensing scheme

A licensing scheme under the Act was commenced on the 6th of November 2008 and will allow commercial production of low THC hemp, as well as facilitating the development of an industry in processing, manufacturing and marketing in NSW:

  • The licensing scheme will enable activities to be carried out under strictly controlled 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.
  • Licensing conditions will ensure that production can take place without risk to drug law enforcement. These conditions include strict eligibility and suitability requirements for licence applicants and compliance monitoring programs.

Low THC hemp has been around for many years and has a wide range of uses including oil for use in dog food and fibre for use as a substitute for fibreglass.

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. A low THC hemp industry in NSW will soon be a reality with the backing of farmers, industry and government.

New license applications

Changes to an existing license

More information

Contact NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Licensing and Accreditation Services for more licensing information:

Postal  Address: PO Box 232, Taree NSW 2430

Phone: (02) 6552 3000

Email: bfs.admin@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Other requirements

Those wishing to grow low-THC hemp should be aware that the environmental assessment and approval process applies to the low-THC hemp industry, in addition to NSW DPI's licensing requirements. The environmental assessment and approval process involves statutory controls under legislation including the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. For more information on the environmental assessment and approval process, please refer to the Department of Planning.

Growing Low THC Hemp

Hemp cannot be grown (commercially or for research) in NSW without a license issued by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The sale and handling of other hemp products, such as seeds and fibre, also requires a license.

Licensed business must comply with certain conditions, including complying with the Hemp Production in New South Wales License Manual (PDF, 438.78 KB). This manual outlines requirements relating to:

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

Further details about the cultivation, marketing and economics of Low THC Hemp can be found in the Industrial hemp - a new crop for NSW Primefact.

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 compliance audit system.

The development of an audit system allows the Department to monitor compliance and take graduated and proportional measures to address non-conformance, 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 operator, which outlines the operations that have been assessed, and identifies areas not fully compliant that need corrective action. If critical non-conformances are 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 general information about the hemp industry in NSW, please call the NSW DPI on 1300 552 406.