You'll get high smoking weed but not cooking with hemp seed.

A pop-up restaurant this week aims to educate Kiwis on the difference between the two - with hemp seed being called "one of the most misunderstood" food products.

"We want to clear the widespread confusion," said organiser Cameron Sims, who is leading a movement to introduce hemp seed as a staple protein in the Kiwi diet.

"Although it is a variety of the cannabis seed, hemp contains very, very low levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis."


The pop-up restaurant will serve dishes made with hemp seed oil to diners over four evenings this week.

These include gourmet bread, pizza, ice cream and chocolate, and will be matched with non-alcoholic beverages.

"The menu is designed to inspire New Zealanders on how easily hemp seed can be incorporated into their daily diet," Sims said.

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are the seeds of the hemp plant, where marijuana comes from.

But it is still illegal for people to eat hemp seeds here, although the rules allow hemp seed oil to be consumed.

Demonstrations at the pop-up restaurant will show how hemp seed can be used in cooking, but the food served to diners will contain only hemp seed oil.

"Until the law change, we won't be able to serve food containing hemp seed unfortunately," Sims said.

Food Safety Minister David Bennett said in April that hemp seeds would soon be legalised, and that hemp had no psychoactive effects and was considered nutritious and safe to eat.

It would take around 18 months for drug and safety laws to be changed to legalise the product.

Sims, who is also a chef and founder of Plant Culture, said he wanted New Zealanders to be ready for when that happens.

"Hemp seed oil is a consumer good, but there is lots we can do with the protein rich by-product that is currently being sold as animal feed," Sims said.

The global market for hemp seeds is worth around $1 billion and its legalisation here could generate up to $20 million in exports.

Sims said he would also use the pop-up restaurant to educate diners on the science, history and laws surrounding industrial hemp.

"Despite the growing awareness of the health benefits of consuming the seed, there is still a strong need for us to disassociate hemp from marijuana in public opinion," he said.

The pop-up will run from Thursday to Sunday at the Atomic Coffee Roasters in Kingsland, Auckland.