Proposed regulation changes may soon see hemp food products sold in Australian supermarkets.
Hemp is currently illegal to consume here in Australia, but there's a possibility that could change soon, with food regulators set to discuss legalising hemp products as soon as April.
While external use of hemp is currently permitted, such as in clothing and some beauty products, hemp foods are currently off the table.
However, Hemp Foods Australia CEO, Paul Benhaim, says legalising it for consumption will unleash a range of benefits - both nutritional and economic.
"The international market for hemp foods is currently estimated at $1 billion annually. If approved, demand for Australian hemp foods is expected to quadruple," Paul told Lifestyle.
"Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) from hemp oil are important for energy production, healthy skin, mental health and immune function. Just one tablespoon of Hemp seeds contains over 7,000mg of EFAs," Paul explained.
"Hemp is naturally low in carbohydrates, contains 15 times as much fat-fighting conjugated linoleic acid as fish oil and is a great source of cholesterol-fighting phytosterols. It also contains antioxidants, B vitamins including folate, minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and is the only known plant food source of vitamin D3."
So, why isn't it already legal to sell on Australian shelves?
Hemp is sourced from the cannabis plant - leading many to believe it has the same properties or effects as marijuana. As Paul explains, this simply isn't true.
"Hemp has virtually no psychoactive ability, containing no or very low traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drug component of marijuana," he said, adding it's just a great tasting food.
Hemp would mainly be sold for consumption in the form of seeds, flour, oil or protein, which Paul says could be "used for making hemp milk, hemp ice cream, hemp hummus, sprinkled onto breakfast, lunch and dinner meals or eaten in their own."
The proposed legislation changes are due to go before the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in April.