Industrial Hemp in Australia

Over 30 countries produce industrial hemp, including Spain, Austria, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Russia and Australia.

The legalisation of growing industrial hemp in some Australian states in recent years is recognition by government and the general community that industrial hemp may make a useful contribution to the economy as an alternative agricultural crop and that the crop can be grown under conditions that do not compromise law and order.

Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L), also known as ‘Indian hemp’, is one of the oldest crops known to man. It has been cultivated since ancient times for its bast (phloem) fibre in the stem, multi-purpose oil in the seeds (achenes) and an intoxicating resin secreted by epidermal glands. It is thought that C. sativa was one of the first plants to be cultivated and there is general agreement that the plant species originated in China where the greatest genetic diversity is found.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the classified psycho-active (mind-altering) ingredient in C. sativa that is produced in specialised glands (glandular trichomes). These glands are found primarily in the flowers surrounding the seeds, and, to a lesser extent, on the leaf surface of the plant. No such glands are produced on or in the seeds.

The difference between marijuana and industrial hemp is that the THC concentration is significantly lower in industrial hemp than it is in marijuana. However, since seed is borne in the flowers which have a large number of glandular trichomes, traces of THC can cling to the seed hulls through the flower head’s sticky resin. The concentration of THC varies according to environmental influences (such as oxygen, light, moisture, and temperature) and genetic factors. It is generally accepted that industrial hemp plants are those C. sativa plants with a concentration of THC less than 3%.

For those interested in producing industrial hemp, four key questions need to be answered:

1. What markets are available for industrial hemp material?

2. Is the profit margin equal to or higher than other crops?

3. How will the crop be harvested?

4. What processing facilities are available?

If these four fundamental questions can not be adequately addressed, then industrial hemp may not be right for your farm business.

Growing Low THC Hemp under licence in NSW

The introduction of a licensing scheme under the Hemp industry Act 2008 will allow farmers in NSW to grow low THC crops for fibre and oil production while limiting the risk to law enforcement.

It is an offence under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to possess low THC hemp unless it was cultivated or supplied under authority of the Hemp Industry Act 2008.

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. Low THC hemp plant material cannot be fed to livestock.

Commercial production of industrial hemp in Queensland

Industrial hemp may be grown in Queensland under controlled conditions. If you intend to grow or research industrial hemp, you must have a licence. All activities carried out under a licence are also subject to monitoring at the licensee’s expense by inspectors who, among other things, sample plants before harvest to test for THC content.

Western Australia Industrial Hemp Scheme

A person wishing to participate in the industrial hemp industry in Western Australia needs to apply for a licence usually valid for three years and will be scrutinised to ensure that they are suitable and eligible to participate in the industry.

Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a potentially important crop for Western Australia. Fibre can be extracted from the stem or oil from the seeds. Items manufactured from hemp include textiles, paper, rope, fuel, oil, stockfeed and medicine.

Producing Industrial Hemp in Tasmania

Tasmanian research data from the Forthside Research Station showed that up to 15 t/ha of dry stem can be produced from one planting. It is also possible to grow two crops in the same season if an early (September) and a late (December) sowing were carried out on the same site.

Industrial Hemp Victoria

In 1998, Victoria became the first Australian State to pass legislation permitting growers, under licence, to grow industrial hemp.

South Australia

Industrial hemp production is regulated in South Australia under the Industrial Hemp Act 2017 and the Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017 which came into effect on 12 November 2017.

Primary Industries and Regions SA

Background: The SA Controlled Substances Act lumps all types of Cannabis together and prohibits all of them, effectively preventing any form of industrial hemp cultivation. A special license was given in 1995 and trial crops were planted in SA. There are some records here.

Northern Territory Information very difficult to find.


Please send in information if you can find more. Contact HEMP


In a world of diminishing forests, increasing demand for fibres of various sorts and increasing concern over the environmental impacts of production systems, hemp may be a valuable addition to agricultural production systems. Hemp fibre could be used as a sustainable substitute for imported wood kraft fibre for papermaking. With its food value yet to be fully realised, it could prove to be an ideal supplement for animals and humans. The oil is reported to have many uses with a favoured one being for use in skin conditioners.

“Hemp seed oil may be nature’s most perfectly balanced oil. It contains an ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6’s [linoleic acid] to omega-3’s [alpha-linolenic acid] for long-term use, and provides the omega-6 derivative gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).” Dr. Udo Erasmus

Hemp food is consumed in every industrialised economy, with the exception of Australia. Even in the United States, where hemp food is legal, it is all imported (mostly from Canada) because growing industrial hemp in the U.S. is illegal.

Lyster H. Dewey, a botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture whose long career straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. Dewey writes painstakingly about growing exotically named varieties of hemp — Keijo, Chinamington and others — on a tract of government land known as Arlington Farms. In effect, he was tending Uncle Sam’s hemp farm. What’s gotten hemp advocates excited about the discovery is the location of that farm. A large chunk of acreage was handed over to the War Department in the 1940s for construction of the world’s largest office building: the Pentagon. So now, hempsters can claim that an important piece of their legacy lies in the rich Northern Virginia soil alongside a hugely significant symbol of the government that has so enraged and befuddled them over the years.



Medicinal and recreational Cannabis is illegal in all States of Australia. Therefore, the over inflated price of this herb attracts criminal behavior and a black market that is supported by the ineffective laws and failed Government policy. The legal system benefits ultimately from the situation with a procession of ‘clients’ charged under petty criminal offences and the cost related to law enforcement that is a burden on our tax payers. Money is wasted on supporting an industry built on a drug policy that is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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