Industrial hemp production in South Australia

Industrial hemp production is regulated in South Australia under the Industrial Hemp Act 2017 and the Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017.

Primary Industries and Regions SA is responsible for issuing licences to authorise the possession, cultivation, processing and supply of industrial hemp in South Australia (SA).

What is industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is a plant or any part of a plant (including seed) from the Cannabis genus that has been specifically bred to have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the leaves and flowering heads of not more than 1%.

The very low concentration of THC in industrial hemp plants means they have none of the psychoactive (mind altering) effects associated with illicit cannabis varieties with higher THC concentrations (often called marijuana).

Industrial hemp is cultivated for seed or fibre production. Hemp fibre and pulp can be used in industrial and consumer textiles, paper and building materials, while hemp seed and hemp seed oil can be used in industrial products, cosmetics and food products.

These regulations do not cover medicinal cannabis.

Supporting SA's industrial hemp industry

The Office of Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis has been initiated by the Government of South Australia to support the establishment of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

Acting as a single point of contact the Office will work with industry and government to provide ongoing support and advice, particularly for new ventures in the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp or medicinal cannabis.

Industrial hemp is not to be confused with medicinal cannabis – which covers a range of approved, quality assured cannabis pharmaceutical grade products intended for human therapeutic use, such as tablets, oils, tinctures and other extracts. The cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis is regulated by the Commonwealth Government under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 by the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control.

Growing industrial hemp in SA

Growing industrial hemp in SA fact sheet (PDF 1.1 MB)

Licence applications

To cultivate industrial hemp in South Australia you must hold a licence from PIRSA.

Depending on the activities to be authorised, applicants can apply for either:

  • a possession licence
  • a cultivation licence
  • or a processing licence.

Industrial hemp licence application forms are available from PIRSA by calling 1300 799 684 or emailing

A licence can only be issued by PIRSA if the applicant, and each associate of the applicant, are deemed to be fit and proper persons by South Australia Police, and the area of cultivation is greater than one hectare.

The Industrial Hemp Act 2017 requires that industrial hemp must be grown from certified hemp seed. Certified hemp seed must be sourced from hemp parent plants with a concentration of THC in leaves and flowering heads of not more than 0.5% and must be accompanied with a certificate from an approved laboratory testing the parent plants.

Typically plants grown from certified hemp seed will produce an industrial hemp crop with less than the maximum allowed 1% THC. Independent crop testing is conducted by authorised PIRSA inspectors to verify that the THC content of all industrial hemp crops meets legal requirements. Crops exceeding 1% THC will no longer be industrial hemp and will potentially be referred for criminal investigation under the Controlled Substances Act 1984.

View information about:

Research trials

A second round of industrial hemp trials are underway in the Riverland and South East of the state to determine the optimum sowing and growing period for 6 varieties. These 6 varieties were assessed as suitable for cultivation in the 2 regions for:

  • hemp grain for various uses including for food
  • biomass for fibre production.

The trials are led by PIRSA’s research arm, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

The information generated in these trials will provide prospective growers the best advice when considering industrial hemp as a potential crop for their farming enterprise.

Preliminary research results report

A preliminary report on the research trial results is now available.

Some of the key aspects that helped achieve the results seen in the first trials included:

  • planting in free draining soil
  • using good quality irrigation water (<1500 parts per million (PPM) / <2700 electrical conductivity units (EC))
  • achieving a high plant density (>50 plants/m2) assists in controlling weeds.

A final report, including data from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO on grain quality as well as fibre/hurd (woody core) yield and quality, will be available in the coming months.

View the preliminary report on the research trial results (PDF 2.0 MB).


More information

Industrial hemp licence application forms are available from PIRSA by calling 1300 799 684 or emailing


PIRSA Industrial Hemp Licensing Scheme
Phone: 1300 799 684

Michael McManus - Manager, Industrial Hemp Licensing Scheme
Phone: (08) 8429 0861

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Dec 2018
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