CANNABIS ice cream, cake and beer have been cleared on health grounds by the nation's food watchdog , despite fears the "marijuana munchies" could trigger positive drug tests.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand yesterday sought public comment on an application by deregistered Sydney doctor Andrew Katelaris to lift Australia's ban on food derived from cannabis.
Dr Katelaris, who is appealing against his deregistration for supplying medical marijuana to patients, yesterday said the seeds of industrial hemp contained more Omega 3 acids than seafood. "We're looking at making ice cream and health food bars," he said.
"Our vision is that anything you can do with soy beans or dairy you can do better with hemp seed."
A Food Standards investigation concluded that industrial hemp contained such low levels of the psychoactive substance delta 9-tetraydrocannabinol (THC) that anyone consuming the food would not feel its effect.
"FSANZ has not identified any safety concerns relating to the consumption of hemp foods," the Food Standards report says.
"Hemp seed is a nutritious food containing sizeable amounts of protein, polyunsaturated fats and dietary fibre . . . (and) micronutrients such as thiamin, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc."
But Food Standards reveals that "various government stakeholders" have raised concerns of high-THC seeds entering the food chain, of advertisers falsely claiming hemp foods have psychoactive properties or that they could trigger positive drug-test results.
"There is a potential risk that . . . labelling and advertising of hemp foods could suggest psychoactive properties . . . (but) this would be misleading," the report says. "Concerns have also been expressed about positive drug tests for cannabis use . . . This is of particular relevance for workplaces that may have drug-testing protocols, for athletes and for roadside drug testing".
The Food Standards report cites a scientific study that this is unlikely, as a person would have to consume eight teaspoons of hemp seed oil, or 300g of seed, daily to fail a drug test "and it is considered that consumption of such amounts is unrealistic."
In 2002, a Food Standards recommendation to approve hemp as food was overturned for fear it would "send the wrong message to the community".
By Natasha Bita