Industrial Hemp Bill

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) (16:53): I indicate on behalf of the opposition that we will also be supporting the bill and the government's amendments. It is pleasing to see that the amendments have been taken from the work that we did here.

An honourable member: Some of them.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: He says, 'Some of them.' It is nice to know that some of the work I do here is respected and taken on board by the government. This bill seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act 1984 to authorise and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp. Currently, South Australia is the only state in which it is illegal to cultivate industrial hemp. Legalising the cultivation of hemp will enable South Australian farmers to access another crop which is currently being farmed in other parts of the country. The state Liberals will always support initiatives that benefit our regions and primary producers, and if farmers decide that it is commercially viable to farm a particular crop, then cultivating industrial hemp could represent a great opportunity for some of the primary producers to do so.

I note the legislative framework in this bill is quite similar to the opium poppy legislation we introduced back in 2015, which passed parliament last year. It took nearly 12 months. Of course, I am not sure what consultation the Hon. Tammy Franks has had with this bill, but we had the police involved, and a whole range of government agencies, to come up with the right regulatory framework. So, it is very good that we know that we have actually got that right and now it has been borrowed here, in part, for this bill.

There are trials for poppy growing and I think we will see them in the ground this year, which is great to see. I think TPI has issued a number of licences in the South-East, so I am really looking forward to watching that industry evolve over the next few years, because it is a well-established and quite large industry in Tasmania and, to a lesser degree, in Victoria. I would hope that there can be some significant economic benefits for South Australia with poppies in the South-East.

It is my understanding that in Victoria and Western Australia the THC maximum limit for industrial hemp is 0.35 per cent in the leaves and the flowering heads of a hemp plant. In the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, there are two THC limits. The leaves and flowering heads of a hemp plant must have less than 1 per cent, while hemp seed may only be used if supplied on the basis that it will not produce hemp plants with THC in its leaves and flowering heads of more than 0.5 per cent.

The bill before the chamber adopts the latter of the limits prescribed in the respective ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmanian legislative frameworks and is based upon the Tasmanian model. As mentioned, it is my understanding that the legislative framework in the bill is similar to our opium poppy legislation passed last year. In order to cultivate hemp, a farmer must obtain a licence and approval from the chief executive of PIRSA.

There are a whole range of things with poppies, around being a fit and proper person and having the right security and fences and signage. Of course, industrial hemp is not at the same level of hazardousness or concern as poppies, so I expect we will not see that. There are still a number of checks and balances in place to screen the potential applicants, including powers for the chief executive to require documentation so a report can be produced and provided to the Commissioner of Police for review.

Licences are limited to a maximum five-year period and may be suspended or cancelled by the chief executive if a farmer breaches these conditions. The chief executive also has powers which mirror those in the opium poppy legislation to order inspections in which the inspector may seize material and take samples. I assume that is so the THC levels in the industrial hemp can be monitored and are not greater than what the legislation allows.

The state government has and will be moving a number of amendments which aim to ensure there are appropriate regulatory and security requirements. Some of these amendments bring the legislative framework in line with the existing opium poppy legislative framework. Albeit, the THC levels in hemp are well below those in marijuana, a strict regulatory framework must be in place and we believe the bill before the parliament has adequate safeguards to regulate and prevent possible improper use of industrial hemp.

I see in the gallery some of the supporters of the industry and I put on the record that I was given a little tub of special hemp oil ointment by Theresa.

The Hon. K.J. Maher: It will make your hair grow.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: It has not made my hair grow but I do use it occasionally when I want to protect the skin on my head. So, thank you very much for that little gift. I have declared it and put on the public record that I have received a little pot of hemp oil ointment. With those few words, we support the bill and its passage through the rest of its stages.

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