Thursday 13 April, 2017

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (15:41): I also rise today to support this bill on industrial hemp. As we heard, it was introduced in another place by the Hon. Tammy Franks last year. It aims to legalise the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state. The bill seeks to change the Controlled Substances Act 1984 and authorise and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp. When we as legislators seek to regulate this kind of product, obviously it is very important that we reach the right balance between the market and the consideration of the relevant and right safety and regulatory environment.

There is ample state legislation covering this area. South Australia, I believe, is the only state that does not allow this kind of industrial hemp to be cultivated. Various state legislation has one key difference: the THC limit that is allowed, which is the psychoactive compound found in hemp and marijuana. In states such as Victoria and WA, the THC max limit is 0.35 per cent in the leaves and flowering heads of hemp. In the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania there are two THC limits: the leaves and the flowering heads of the hemp plant have to have less than 1 per cent.

Hemp seed may only be used if it is supplied on the basis that it will not produce hemp plants with more than 0.5 per cent of THC in the leaves and flowering heads. I understand that the proposed bill adopts the latter limits prescribed in the respective ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmanian legislative frameworks, and it takes up the Tasmanian model.

Hemp has a relatively low concentration of THC: under 1 per cent. By contrast, the average marijuana plant could have anywhere from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. The framework created in this bill is very similar to another bill that was introduced and passed last year in another place concerning opium poppy legislation. In order to cultivate the desired hemp, a farmer would have to obtain a licence and also seek approval from the Chief Executive of PIRSA.

As you would expect, a vast array of checks and balances are required to screen any potential applicant because obviously, like any area, it is important that we have these checks and balances so that the process is not abused. There are powers for the chief executive to ask for documentation so that a report can be produced and also provided to the Commissioner of Police for review. There is a maximum term limit on the licences, and they can also be not only suspended but cancelled by the chief executive if a farmer actually breaches any of these conditions.

As we have heard, a wide array of products can be produced from hemp in all kinds of industries, ranging from the agriculture industry to textiles; recycling; the automotive industry; furniture; food and nutrition; beverages; paper construction materials; and personal care. The member for Bragg also alluded to some of the constitutional issues that may be raised. I trust that these have been looked at in the other place and also looked at by the government concerning section 109 of the constitution whenever a bill from the federal parliament is inconsistent with a state bill. I know that would have been looked at, and I trust that if there are any concerns that they will be perhaps fleshed out in the committee stage.

Overall, this has been a long time coming. This area has been ignored far too long by this government, and I look forward to seeing the bill progressed through the house and to this market developing here in South Australia, as it has in other states around Australia. Down the track, I look forward to a debate on other related areas, such as medical cannabis. I commend the bill to the house.