THE HISTORY OF KAVA IN AUSTRALIA
The true origins of Kava span hundreds of years.
It is a plant that originates from Pacific Island countries such as Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Micronesia.
The history of Kava in Australia is much shorter as it was first introduced into the country in the 1980s. Our sources state that Fijian and Tongan missionaries and leaders brought Kava to Australia.
As we have experienced, with the South Pacific tourism boom, Australians have become more aware of kava. Moreover, many Australia tourists trialed kava on their travels and brought it back with them.
As kava gained popularity, kava bars and kava retail business developed. Notably, Kava was also brought to the Indigenous communities as a substitute for alcohol.
However, reports of abuse in the Indigenous communities caused the federal government to have concerns about that abuse. Therefore, the Australian Federal Government banned the importation and sale of kava in 2007 because of this concern.
The Current State of Kava in Australia
In January 2022, the Australian Federal Government changed regulations and laws about kava.
The Office of Drug Controls, which regulates Kava, recently changed the status of kava. Whilst previously being listed as a narcotic, it is now scheduled as a food. We have listed below what that now means for Australian kava drinkers.
Current laws of usage and distribution
The Office of Drug Control have changed the way kava is viewed by authorities by changing its status, As such, Kava’s status has changed from being a “controlled substance” to a “food”. However, only under the following conditions:
- It must have been imported through the new importation laws. (Check to the right of this).
- It can only be sold in powder, root form or extract using an aqueous extraction method.
- It must be packaged under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
- It must have the country of origin labelled on it
- Kava packaging must say “Use in Moderation” and “May cause drowsiness”.
Current Kava Australia import law
As mentioned, The Office of Drug Control oversees the import of Kava Australia. The following are the current import regulations and laws:
- Passengers entering Australia can bring a maximum of 4kg of Kava with them.
- Importers of kava must lodge a Kava Import Permit with the ODC stating proposed manifest and arrival date.
- Importers cannot proceed with the import until they receive written notification of approval.
- All imports are to be reviewed by Australian Border Force and Australian Quarantine and approved prior to release.
- All imports must state country of origin. If they are packaged retail-ready, they must abide by relevant packaging laws.
Changes to import regulations should benefit the Kava community
The changes to kava made by the Office of Drug Control are being monitored by many government agencies. As such, a review of the impact of these changes by Australia government bodies is ongoing.
Moreover, for Australian kava drinkers, this means kava is now readily available. Still, the changes that the Office of Drug Control have made to kava do not pertain to the following:
- Noble kava varieties
- Microbial testing
Kava drinkers must be aware that there is no guarantee they are buying Noble variety kava. So, it is important to always look for retailers that supply the noble variety kava certification with their products.
Therefore we highly recommend Australia Kava Shop’s product line as they supply certification for all their kava: