WELLINGTON, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government has decided to classify hemp seed as food in the country, most likely to benefit regional economies, Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor said on Tuesday.
This change of rules is followed by decades of argument from the local hemp industry, which believed that the production of hemp seed foods will stimulate regional economies, create jobs and generate 10 million (6.67 million U.S. dollars) to 20 million of export revenue within three to five years, O'Connor said.
The Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015 will be amended to allow the sale of hemp seed as food, the minister said, adding that hemp flowers and leaves will not be permitted.
Hemp is currently grown under permit and is used for fiber and hemp seed oil.
"Hulled, non-viable seeds and their products will now be viewed as just another edible seed," he said, adding that growing, possession and trade of whole seeds will still require a license from the Ministry of Health.
Hemp seeds are safe to eat, nutritious and do not have a psychoactive effect, he added.
"Diversification is key to the health of a regional economy and the government is committed to work with our primary sectors to get more value from what they do," O'Connor said.