Cannabis cosmetics crusader celebrates year on from Aussie hemp food legalisation

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Cannabis cosmetics crusader celebrates year on from Aussie hemp food legalisation
Almost exactly a year ago, changes to the Australian Food Standards Code finally permitted the sale of low-psychoactive hemp seed as a food, after years of lobbying by producers and industry groups. Hemp skincare’s popularity has trickled down from last November’s food legalisation buzz.

The champagne has continued to flow over the 12 months since November 12, as companies from related industries continue to reap the commercial benefits of the hard work many put into two decades of campaigning for legislative reform.

Campaigning for cannabis

Teresa McDowell says her South Australian skin and bodycare business, Hemp Hemp Hooray, has seen 165% growth in the last 12 months, largely on the back of the buzz created by the legalisation of hemp as a food. As non-consumables, hemp cosmetics have been around for years.

That’s a lot to do with all the work we did to get legislation changed, which affected not just foods, but hemp as a whole, including skincare​,” she said.

With the hemp food legislation going through in Australia, it has really grown awareness. From the trickle-down effect, and the awareness of medicinal cannabis as well, hemp has been doing really well​.”

As a campaigner for hemp law reform, McDowell set up the Hemp Association of South Australia back in 2010. Her local efforts helped bring South Australian state legislation in line with the rest of the country by finally allowing the legal cultivation of industrial hemp, at the same time as hemp was legalised as a food.

We have built a great community and lobbied for many years, and now we would like this growth trend to continue​,” she said.

The initial surge came because of awareness of the legislation, I’d say. There’s interest and now we have to capitalise on that growth​.”

The 12-year-old business has a number of skin and bodycare lines that are developed and made in-house in Mount Barker, to the southeast of Adelaide. Visitors can see products including cleansing creams, face packs and moisturisers being hand-manufactured behind a glass screen at the site.

Hemp in the mainstream

Paul Benhaim, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest hemp producer and chief executive of a number of consumer, nutritional and skincare hemp businesses, including Hemp Foods Australia, Elixinol and Sativa Skincare, said there had been “pronounced growth​” throughout the marketplace since last November.

We have managed to grow not only our own sales, but sales to other brands. We expect to continue to grow, by the look of the numerous conversations we are having​,” he said, adding that exports of his new skincare brand will begin later this year.

We are finding that our Sativa Skincare range, which is based on Australia’s botanicals, has been very well received in Australia, and largely this has been due to all the publicity that has been given to hemp this year​.”

For Hemp Hemp Hooray, satisfaction comes most from being able to open up the hemp industry after having worked so hard to get it legalised— even more so than from the economics.

The company’s founder said she wanted to see hemp in the mainstream as it is such a sustainable resource. She also hopes the explosion of interest it has been generating over the last year will attract like-minded entrepreneurs to the industry.

A lot of my passion comes from what hemp can do for people​,” said McDowell. “All of us, we know we make products with integrity and quality, and we would hope that people coming in would work in the same kind of way​.

Sometimes the opportunity will attract people for the money, I guess. But for me, it’s for hemp, for the health of the planet​.”

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