Hemp is not marijuana, it is a formidable vegetable, says social entrepreneur
CHRISTCHURCH, NZ, June 5, 2018 – Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is speaking out about the beneficial properties of
hemp to help inform and inspire Kiwis to embrace new business opportunities around what he calls a ‘formidable
“Hemp is food, fibre and medicine. Hemp is cannabis without any of the psychoactive properties of its cousin marijuana
and is fuelling an emerging market which is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors,” says Mayell, who
started his food journey as founder of Cookie Time in 1983 and went on to found Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise, in
2016 and the Drinkable Rivers in our Lifetime campaign.
Mayell says, “I think we’re growing the wrong grass in New Zealand, or as Richard Branson said we should swap cows for
cannabis. New Zealand needs to move from the lamb age to the cow age to the hemp age. I’d like to see the whole country
get behind this incredible and so very misunderstood plant.”
Mayell is sponsoring and presenting at the inaugural iHemp Summit in Wellington this week to help support the efforts to
explore the opportunities around hemp for food, fibre and medicine for New Zealand companies, farmers, scientists,
communities, investors and entrepreneurs.
New Zealand food safety authorities are currently looking to follow Australia to allow hemp seed in food by changing
regulations under the Food Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Medicines Act. Law changes are expected later this year
to allow hemp seed to be sold as a food in New Zealand, in addition to the current legislation which has allowed the
local sale of hemp seed oil since 2003.
“Many other countries have already legalised this formidable vegetable,” says Mayell. “We need to be ready to capitalise
on the opportunities around hemp seed, one of the most nutritionally complete foods on Earth. With up to 40% protein and
40% good oil, hemp offers an incredible alternative to meat or dairy protein for the exponentially growing plant-based,
flexitarian and vegan markets.”
Hulled hemp seeds are filled with healthy essential fatty acids such as Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, Omega 3 and Omega 6)
and Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and are high in fibre, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and
According to Mayell, Hemp is also the new king of leafy greens, “There are 100 cannabinoids and other nutrients in hemp
leaves. It’s an incredible superfood and people could be eating and juicing the leaf for its micronutrients and
antioxidant properties, as they do with spinach and kale.”
Hemp has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years due to its multi-purpose applications and the pharmaceutical and
construction sectors have shown interest in the plant in equal measure in addition to the food sector.
Hemp is rich in phytochemicals including terpenes and phenolic compounds, with analgesic, anti-anxiety, and
anti-inflammatory properties, as well as cannabinoids. Hemp is a rich source of both cellulosic and woody fibres with
uses ranging from the creation of concrete like building materials to the use of hemp fibres as a substitute for glass
fibres in the automotive sector. With between 25,000 and 50,000 uses often reported, it is has also been named the
world’s most versatile plant.
Mayell says the opportunity to invest in hemp is compelling as it has some major environmental benefits. “Hemp is
exponentially better for the environment than grass grazing cows which pollute the land, air and waterways. Hemp is also
an incredible phyto remediation plant and can extract heavy metals and other contaminates from fertilizers in the soil
which in turn stops them getting into foods and waterways.”
Research shows hemp can uptake as much as 4 times the CO2 of trees. Based on this Mayell believes that if 10,000 dairy
farmers grew hemp on one quarter of their land, the net environmental impact (-cows+hemp) would be a game changer.
“Planting hemp isn’t just a win for the environment, it produces an annual profit which will increase over time as
markets are found for more and more of the plants constituents.”
Mayell adds, “During the lamb age we became rich thanks to 70 million sheep and their wool, and from frozen lamb carcass
exports. Now in the cow age, we have 6.5 million dairy cows and 3.5 million cattle each excreting the equivalent of 14
human beings making our land toxic and makes many of our rivers unswimmable and producing highly destructive methane
that pollutes the air.
“Fortunately it’s a problem with a solution – and the solution is to move from the current unsustainable animal farming
paradigm to a new regenerative business model to support the bio-economy and there is no better plant on the planet to
do this job than hemp.”