The Purpose of the Association is to represent all people and organisations interested in any aspects of industrial hemp and associated products at a national level in Australia, in order to develop and grow all aspects of the industry. There are also various Industrial Hemp Associations in a number of States in Australia, some of which are members of the AIHA.
There are varying State laws and regulations throughout Australia that regulate industrial hemp in different ways. There are Australian Federal laws and Australian regulatory bodies and organisations that expressed the need for an Australia-wide organisation to be created in addition to the Industrial Hemp Associations in the various Australian States.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) confirmed that it has been waiting for a national industry body to emerge and it will from now deal exclusively with the AIHA on research and product development initiatives for industrial hemp. RIRDC is looking to develop projects that will benefit the whole sector. We are working with RIRDC to identify the high priority projects with most capacity to deliver a step-change in industry competitiveness.
Broader issues around regulation which remain obstacles to industry development have also been raised with Barnaby Joyce’s advisors on agriculture and horticulture, including the variations in low THC levels between the States and the inequalities in opportunity where States have not amended legislation adequately, or have not yet legislated to allow for the development of both food and fibre industries.
The members of AIHA include growers, processors, retailers, educators and manufacturers, all united in their passion for this wonderful natural crop, industrial hemp.
The Association operates under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 and has adopted the NSW Model Rules in its Constitution. The Constitution can be downloaded here.
EARLIER ACTIVITIES OF THE AIHA
The AIHA held its most recent Annual General Meeting on 20 July 2016.
It seems that the hemp industry is finally coming out of the dark and the past 12 months have seen a lot of activity. A major focus for the AIHA has been writing submissions, with food and medicinal hemp both being given serious consideration by the Federal Government.
Legislation has been a long time coming and recognition needs to be given to the early advocates for their more than 20 year commitment to lobbying government, to shed light on these issues.
In October 2015, members of our Management Committee met with Barnaby Joyce’s Advisors on horticulture and agriculture; Dept Primary Industries re food regulation; National Farmers Federation; Dept of Environment re the Emissions Reduction Fund and RIRDC. We also had discussions with the Office of Drug Control regarding low THC medicinal cannabis.
In February 2016, we also made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Regulation in Australian Agriculture which focused on Australia’s banning of hemp food and associated issues, the inconsistencies of state regulations and the impact that is having at a practical level for the development of the industry. The submission referred the government to effective models of management for food regulation already implemented in Canada and Europe and indicated the hemp industry’s willingness to effectively self-regulate and implement standards.
FSANZ has now prepared a draft food regulatory measure and has called for submissions to assist consideration of the draft. (Please see the post above.) The AIHA will be making a further submission. FSANZ’s final report and recommendations are expected to be tabled in late October 2016 in readiness for the face to face meeting of the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in November.
In May 2016 we held a public meeting in Sydney attended by RIRDC, to consult the broader industry about research priorities. Four subcommittees were formed following the meeting to address ongoing challenges in relation to:
- sourcing seed;
- food regulation;
- fibre regulation and
- low THC hemp for medicinal use.
The meeting in Sydney endorsed the following priorities for the Alliance:
• Communication, education and networking
• Working with government and supporting the states and territories in getting relevant legislative and regulatory change regarding food and fibre production
• Collating national data
• Developing a strategic plan for an ethical industry
• Developing industry standards for quality assurance and ensuring effective labelling of products.
Regarding medicinal hemp and progress in this area, it’s encouraging that the Federal Government’s has not ruled out research on the value of medicine derived from the whole plant, even though the medicines initially available will be pharmaceutical derivatives. It was also good to hear at the Medi Cann Forum facilitated by the Office of Drug Control in Brisbane, that the Australian government has not set a limit on the number of manufacturers, that applications for licences will be accepted from farming co-operatives and that it is anticipated that with time Australia will become a significant exporter of high grade medicinal cannabis products. Support in parliament for the Federal Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis was broad and the regulatory framework will be established by 30 October 2016 so that the industry can commence.
In the first 12 months, expected Australian demand is for treatment of 20,000 patients. These figures are negotiated at an annual meeting of the International Narcotics Board held in Vienna.
Initially treatment will be available to patients with the following illnesses and conditions after referral to a specialist by their GP:
– epilepsy in children,
– spasticity in multiple sclerosis,
– nausea in HIV and cancer patients as well as for
– palliative care in cancer.
Expansion of availability will be in response to demand, so the role of GPs will be critical. While it is was disappointing to learn that hoped for training through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians will not proceed, the Medicinal Taskforce is seeking to work with GPs to ensure that training and information is readily available to them.
There is now an active website for information on medicinal cannabis and its regulation https://www.odc.gov.au
Other positive news on this front is the formation of the Australian institute for Medicinal Cannabis which will shortly hold its inaugural meeting.
The AIHA welcomes applications for full membership from all participants in the Australian industrial hemp industry and also invites members of the public who see value in supporting the ethical expansion of the hemp industry, to support the Alliance with their Associate membership ($50/non-voting).
The AIHA’s Management Committee comprises volunteers who are committed to the development of hemp as a major Australian industry and to supporting hemp-based regional development.