Who wants to smoke cannabis (aka pot/weed/marijuana) when you can eat it? Not some Australians! Their top food watchdog, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, recently said foods made with industrial hemp would be A-OK with them.
The decision resulted from an appeal by Dr. Andrew Katelaris, who is appealing against his deregistration for supplying medical marijuana to patients. (Poor guy.) It seems he also opened a can of worms regarding hemp foods when he said the seeds of industrial hemp contained more omega-3 acids than seafood.
So, then Food Standards investigated and found that industrial hemp is actually no big thing. It contains reeealllly low levels of psychoactive THC, so it's not like if you ate cannabis ice cream, cake, or beer, you'll end up stoned out of your mind. In other words, we're not talking about the kind of pot food that entails taking loads of actual pot and mixing it into butter that then goes into a brownie recipe.
The only people who are actually concerned about hemp becoming a part of mainstream food? "Various [Australian] government stakeholders," who are worried that high-THC seeds (um, how many of those actually exist?) would get into the food chain, fearful that some food manufacturers will make false claims about their foods getting you high, and nervous that hemp foods may lead to positive drug-test results.
On all accounts, it sounds like those "stakeholders" are making a mountain out of a molehill! According to the article about the controversy in The Australian, you'd have to eat a LOT of hemp food (eight teaspoons of hemp oil) to have anything show up in a drug test whatsoever. And if you're really that concerned, then steer clear. Go for soy or dairy.
Otherwise, it seems like there would be more benefit than harm by allowing more foods to be made with industrial hemp. Turns out the seed has lots of protein, polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs!), dietary fiber, and good nutrients like vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
In Europe, Canada, and even here in the U.S., hemp's already in a good handful of foods, but it's not exactly mainstream yet ... I'd bet more people opt for soy ice cream, for instance, than hemp ice cream, which I've spied on occasion in the ice cream case at Whole Foods.
And I'm pretty sure no one is getting high off of the hemp ice cream. So it sounds like there's little argument that Australia would do well to just loosen up already and say "yes" to hemp foods.
Do you feel like there's any reason to be wary of foods made with hemp seeds?
Image via Greg Andrews/Flickr