A hemp/cannabis education and innovation hub is to be launched in Rotorua.

Crash Palace backpackers owner Chris Woodney has a research and breeding licence for hemp in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006.

He works with 12 New Zealand farmers who hold hemp licences and oversees around 15-20 hectares of hemp plantations with them that are harvested and used for making products including animal feed and balms, pellets for fires, fish burley, rope, fabrics and eco-plastics.

Woodney's hub launch on Saturday will be a "low THC event" focusing on the "correct uses for hemp".

Chris Woodney with hemp based products. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Chris Woodney with hemp based products. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

"It will be a platform for members of the public to discuss and learn about industrial hemp setups," Woodney said.

As part of the hub at Crash Palace, Woodney planned to act as a consultant for potential farmers as they navigated obtaining a hemp licence and the rules around how the plant could and could not be used.

Speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post, Woodney described hemp as "cannabis designed for humans" because it was nutrient dense.

His focus was on the uses of dietary cannabis rather than medicinal cannabis, and he said it was a functional food that should be micro-dosed for health, not getting high.

"My belief is cannabis should never have really been smoked."

Chris Woodney with harvested hemp plants. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Chris Woodney with harvested hemp plants. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

He would like to see hemp hearts (seeds) used to feed kids at preschool age because they were a rich source of omega 3 and 6 fats, but current laws did not allow the hearts to be sold for human consumption in New Zealand.

Hemp Foundation leader Tadhg Stopford will also speak at the launch.

When asked about the debate around hemp in New Zealand he said: "It's not a debate it's a battle".


"It is a food, not a drug. They [governments] have prohibited the most useful vegetable in the world."

He said the Rotorua event was one of many he would speak at ahead of the cannabis referendum expected before the 2020 election.

Woodney had contacted the police ahead of the launch to prevent confusion over his intentions.

A police spokesperson said they were "not in a position to confirm if police have been in discussion with specific people".

"Police respect people's right to hold lawful events."

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the lobby group supported the "rapid expansion of further quality research into the components of the marijuana plant for delivery via non-smoked forms, and the establishment of a programme that allows seriously ill patients to obtain other non-smoked components of marijuana approved and listed by the Ministry of Health via their doctor – with appropriate funding and pricing for patients".

"Neurologists, palliative care and pain specialists should have a key role in this process."

Launch of Hemp/Cannabis Education and Innovation Hub

Where: Crash Palace, 1271 Hinemaru St
When: Saturday 6pm-midnight
Cost: Early Bird Admission $20, Door Charge: $40
Live music: Sunshine Soundsystem & P Digsss from Shapeshifter

What is hemp?

Industrial hemp is varieties of cannabis sativa that have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content generally below 0.35 per cent. Industrial hemp varieties are controlled drugs and are listed in Schedule 3 Part I of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

It is an offence to advertise hemp for psychoactive purposes or to supply it to unauthorised persons.

- MInistry of Health