Hemp its it legal to buy and sell?

Many people are now realising the benefits of naturally grown Hemp and Hemp related products to improve their health. Governments across the State including NSW have recently adopted a scheme to allow people to reap the benefits of products derived from Hemp with changes to the Food Safety standards.

This is because hemp seeds and related seed oil contains high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. AND research studies have shown that these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.

BUT not all Hemp oils are legal you must know the difference and read the label.

As, Hemp seed soil and related hemp seed meal should NOT be confused with pure Hemp oil.

Hemp oil is a drug and as such it is illegal.  This is because Hemp oil is an extract of cannabis, and thus falls under a prohibited drug according to the law. Possession of hemp oil without a medical prescription for medicinal purposes only will lead to criminal prosecution. 

On the other hand, hemp seed products and oils can be purchased, imported, and sold. As the Food Standard in NSW now permit certain hemp seed products for human consumption. But please note it is important to be aware that only the seeds of the hemp plant can be used for human consumption. This means that extracts from the remainder of the plant are considered a drug.

Also, it should be noted that hemp seed oil is commonly sold as simply hemp oil which is low in the compounds as stated above that are prohibited.

The Office of Drug Control states that ‘many products are incorrectly labelled as containing ‘hemp oil’ and actually contain ‘hemp seed oil‘. Which is the cold pressing the ripened fruits (seeds) of a plant in the genus Cannabis.

AND not all hemp oils are the same for there are growers now in NSW that produce modified low THC crops and the extracts and oils from these under licence are considered legal. The Hemp Industry Act 2008 defines low-THC hemp as “any plant of the genus Cannabis that has a concentration of THC in its leaves and flowering heads of no more than 1% and includes the seed of any such plant and any product (such as oil or fibre) derived from any such plant”.

Low-THC hemp produces cultivars of Cannabis sativa that have been bred to produce very low levels of THC. Low-THC hemp has no measurable psychoactive effect. However, you MUST check the labels and ensure that the product you are purchasing, and selling does NOT contain more than 50mg/kg of cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), if it does then it is a DRUG and therefore requires a doctor’s prescription to possess even in the oil form.

This been the case, in NSW you may import the following substances without an import permission under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 being:

  • 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.[1]

The relevant definitions of the above are:

  • hemp seed oil means the oil obtained by cold expression from ripened hemp seeds.
  • 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.[2]

Additionally, you may also import the following products without import permission under the the same Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 being:

  • Products contain hulled hemp seeds, derived from hemps, and/or hemp seed oil provided that:
  • They do not contain another drug; and
  • They do not contain any part (or extracts) of the cannabis/hemp plant (excluding extracts made from the hemp seeds); and
  • 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. [3]

However, please also note that to sell, cultivate or manufacture the Hemp seed oil and related Hemp seed products you will require a licence in NSW.

The Hemp Industry Act 2008 (NSW) and Hemp Industry Regulation 2016 (NSW) allows business owners to apply for a licence to cultivate, manufacture and supply low-THC hemp. The above Acts sets out the particulars and responsibilities of licence holders and how to apply for the same.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence or has an employment law dispute issue, contact Rep-Revive Criminal & Employment Lawyers ® for a free initial consultation on (02) 9198 1996.


  • (‘Office of Drug Control’)
  • Customs (Prohibited Imports) (Importation of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Derived Products) Approval 2018 section 5.
  • Customs (Prohibited Imports) (Importation of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Derived Products) Approval 2018 section 4.
  • See section 5.
  • See Hemp Industry Act 2008 (NSW) Sections 4 to 7.


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