With the recent changes to the Food Standard certain hemp seed products are now permitted for human consumption. It is important to be aware that only the seeds of the hemp plant can be used for human consumption - extracts from the remainder of the plant are considered a drug.
In support of this change the Department of Health and Aged Care has amended controls under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (PI regulations) to allow specific hemp seed and fibre products to be imported without requiring a licence and permit under the import regulation. The PI regulations may be found at Customs (Prohibited Imports) (Importation of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Derived Products) Approval 2018.
Items which can be imported without a licence and permit
- It is important that the products you import do not exceed the stated thresholds for cannabinoids. The Australian Border Force regularly test hemp shipments and products, and you could potentially face serious charges if you are found to be importing a cannabis based product that is not covered by this instrument.
- The Food Standard and state/territory laws may have different thresholds for cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol for hemp and foods. You must ensure your products comply with the Food Standard if importing for human consumption.
You may import the following substances without import permission under the PI Regulations:
- Hulled hemp seeds
- Hemp seed meal
- Hemp fibre
- Hemp seed oil if:
- the total cannabidiol (CBD) content of the hemp seed oil is 0.0075% (75mg/kg) or less, and
- the total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the oil is 0.005% (50mg/kg) or less
You may import the following products without import permission under the PI Regulations
- Products contain hulled hemp seeds, derived from hemps, and/or hemp seed oil provided that:
- They do not contain another drug
- They do not contain any part (or extracts) of the cannabis/hemp plant (excluding extracts made from the hemp seeds)
- The total cannabidiol (CBD) content is 0.0075% (75 mg/kg) or less, and
- The total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is less 0.005% (50 mg/kg) or less.
Example: A capsule containing 1000mg of hemp seed oil would need to contain less than 0.075 mg of CBD
- drug has the same meaning as in sub-regulation 5(20) of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956.
- hemp fibre means the fibre of a plant of the genus Cannabis but does not include the leaves, seeds or flowers of the plant.
- hemp seed meal means the meal or flour obtained from the grinding or milling of hemp seeds.
- hemp seed oil means the oil obtained by cold expression from ripened hemp seeds.
- hemp seeds means the seeds from a plant of the genus Cannabis if the leaves and flowering heads of the plant do not contain more than 1% total tetrahydrocannabinol content.
- hulled hemp seeds means hemps seeds that have had their outer coat or hull removed.
- total cannabidiol content means the total amount of cannabidiol and cannabidiolic acid.
- total tetrahydrocannabinol content means the total amount of delta‑9‑tetrahydrocannabinol and delta‑9‑tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.
- unhulled hemp seeds means hemp seeds that are not hulled hemp seeds.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Hemp oil is an extract of a plant in the genus Cannabis. It may contain various cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). Hemp oil usually contains THC and CBD in excess of the threshold amounts above.
Hemp oil is not to be confused with another product known as hemp seed oil.
Hemp seed oil is the oil obtained by cold pressing the ripened fruits (seeds) of a plant in the genus Cannabis.
Hemp seed oil does not contain cannabinoids, such as CBD, apart from trace levels that may be present from inadequate cleaning of the seeds.
Hemp and cannabis are both terms used to describe a plant in the genus Cannabis.
Colloquially, hemp is a term used to describe any cannabis plant that is cultivated for fibre and seed. It will generally contain very low levels of THC, but potentially high CBD.
For the purpose of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (the Act) an 'extract of cannabis' is any substance that may be obtained by the separation of components from a plant in the genus Cannabis using solvents or other means.
Extraction of a plant in the genus Cannabis is considered to be 'manufacture' under the Act and requires a manufacture licence.
There is no difference; hemp oil is the extract of cannabis. The manufacture of hemp oil requires a manufacture licence under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (the Act).
The Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (the Act) implements the manufacturing obligations of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (the Single Convention), to which Australia is a signatory.
Under the Single Convention an extract of cannabis is a drug; therefore by definition 'hemp oil' is also a drug and is subject to the manufacturing obligations under the Single Convention.
All cultivation of cannabis is controlled under the Single Convention, and under the Act, except for cannabis cultivated exclusively for fibre and seed.
The Australian Government has not changed the classification of hemp oil. Since the commencement of the Act in 1967, any person manufacturing hemp oil must have a licence to manufacture under the Act.
The Single Convention and Australian law are silent on the levels of THC in cannabis extracts. All extracts of cannabis are drugs, regardless of specific cannabinoid levels.
No. Hemp seed oil is an extract of cannabis seeds and does not contain any extracts from the cannabis plant. Therefore, by definition, hemp seed oil is not a drug under the Act. In addition, hemp seed oil does not contain anything more than trace amounts of cannabinoids.
If a product labelled 'hemp seed oil' contains cannabinoids, such as CBD, it is not hemp seed oil. The product may have been mislabelled, mixed with hemp oil or adulterated with CBD.
Hemp oil is a drug.
Hemp oil that is a medicinal cannabis product may only be accessed by prescription from your doctor who has been granted Special Access Scheme Approval or is an Authorised Prescriber.
Hemp oil may only be imported if the importer holds a licence and permit to import from the Office of Drug Control. Information relating to licences and permits can be found on the Licences and permits page of this site.
No, unless the product is hemp seed oil, then it is not legal to purchase or import without a doctor’s prescription, Special Access Scheme approval, and if from overseas, import permission.
Maybe. Many products are incorrectly labelled as containing 'hemp oil' and actually contain 'hemp seed oil'.
If the product contains more than 50mg/kg of cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), it is a drug and therefore requires a doctor's prescription and Special Access Scheme approval.
No. Hemp oil, being an extract of cannabis, is a drug.
Drugs may not be used in cosmetics unless approved, with a therapeutic claim, by the TGA under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.