Hemp seeds as food

Find out about pending law changes to allow hemp seed to be sold as food, who is managing these changes, and how you can have your say.


While changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code allowing the sale of hemp seed foods took effect on 12 November 2017, it won't become legal in New Zealand until late 2018 as changes need to be made to our domestic laws first.

Hemp seed to be legalised as food

On 28 April 2017, trans-Tasman ministers approved a change to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The change will allow the use of hemp seed as a food for human consumption. However, the Government has to change some laws before that can happen. Changes will be needed to regulations under the following legislation:

  • Food Act 2014
  • Misuse of Drugs Act 1975
  • Medicines Act 1981.

This is because of hemp's connection with drug and medicines legislation. The process of changing New Zealand's regulations to allow the manufacture, sale and purchase of hemp seeds (and food made from hemp seeds) won't be completed until late 2018.

As part of the law changes, decisions will need to be made on:

  • licensing
  • testing
  • enforcement regimes.

Note, the permission to sell hemp seed oil (with zero tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and zero cannabidiol (CBD)) remains in place during the implementation period.

Having your say

All proposed changes are open to public consultation. Consultation opened on 10 May 2018 and will close on 20 June 2018.

Who is handling these changes?

To put the changes into effect, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be working with other agencies, including the:

  • Ministry of Health
  • New Zealand Customs Service.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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