First South Canterbury hemp crop in 16 years set to be planted

Waihi Bush owner David Musgrave is growing South Canterbury's first hemp crop for consumption by humans.
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Waihi Bush owner David Musgrave is growing South Canterbury's first hemp crop for consumption by humans.

South Canterbury's first hemp crop designated for human consumption is set to be planted this November. 

The owner of Geraldine business Waihi Bush, David Musgrave, will plant the crop, which will be the first hemp crop the business has cultivated in 16 years.

"It's the change in the (Government) regulations that allow us to grow hemp protein as food," Waihi Bush owner David Musgrave said.

Hemp had previously only been permitted for manufacture as a fibre or animal food product within New Zealand. 

Musgrave grew a hemp crop in 2001, but discovered legislation prevented his company from selling foodstuffs manufactured from the crop.

"We grew ten hectares, and then found out we weren't allowed to sell it,"  he said.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand approved the sale of hemp based foods in Australia and New Zealand in April.

Changes to legislation will allow Australian and New Zealand businesses grow hemp for use in hemp based foods from November onwards.

Approval was given on the condition that all hemp based foods were low in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that causes the high from cannabis. 

Musgrave said he had an initial plan for the new crop, and then would have to see how things evolved.

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"Initially we will be selling it as a gourmet flour."

Plans could develop from there, if the first product was popular.

"One of the big things in the USA right now is hemp milk, it's bloody good," he said. 

Musgrave described hemp milk as a "better version of soy milk", but was unsure whether Waihi Bush would manufacture the product.

"It's a fairly intensive process to get into."

Musgrave already has a target market in mind for his new product.

"People into paleo foods really like hemp foods."

Musgrave said he was not concerned about anyone stealing plants from the crop because they think they can get high from it.

He said there were no issues last time he grew a crop.

"Last time I gew it, I had an open field day.

"Because the issue was fairly high profile, everyone knew the plant was low in THC." 

Waihi Bush is not the first business to sell hemp as a foodstuff in the wider Canterbury region. 

According to Musgrave, an Ashburton business had previously sold hemp based protein powder as "pet food".

Hemp pellets that work as pig feed have also been on the market for a number of years, Musgrave said. 

 - Stuff

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