HomeNewsUK Hemp Licensing Changes Proposed

UK Hemp Licensing Changes Proposed

Planned changes to industrial hemp licensing in the UK should make it a little easier for farmers to grow the crop.

Announced earlier this week, among the changes is allowing licence holders to grow hemp anywhere on a licensed farm. Furthermore, the maximum period for a licence will be extended from three to six years, assuming terms of the licence are observed. Another proposed change is an option to apply for a licence with a deferred start date by up to twelve months.

“The licensing changes announced today recognise industrial hemp as a field-grown agricultural crop and will enable more farmers to add hemp to their crop rotations, sequester carbon, and sell their harvest to the textile and construction industries,” said Farming Minister Mark Spencer.

Hemp can only be cultivated in the UK under the Home Office’s “industrial hemp” licensing regime for the purposes producing fibre and seed. For cannabinoid/medical applications, a standard cannabis cultivation licence is required.

While the number of hemp licences has grown from six in 2013 to 136 hemp licences last year, there is plenty of room for growth and red tape has been preventing it.

“This government will always seek to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on businesses so that they can flourish and grow,” said Chris Philp, Minister for Crime and Policing. “The changes outlined today will help farmers and manufacturers in the UK to fully realise the economic potential offered through the safe and legal cultivation of hemp.”

Other changes are also in the works. Currently, hemp is defined as cannabis with a THC content less than 0.2%. This puts UK farmers at a disadvantage compared to other jurisdictions where the maximum THC content can be as much as 1%, but is more commonly 0.3%. The UK government says it has  asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to advise on whether the threshold could be safely raised to 0.3%; which seems to be a bit of a no-brainer.

Assuming the changes do go ahead, they are planned to come into effect for the 2025 growing season.

Hemp has a long history in the UK. According to the British Hemp Alliance (BHA), the crop was once considered so important, King Henry VIII made cultivation compulsory by law.

“For every 60 acres, farmers had to grow about 1/4 acre of flax or hemp, or else they would face a fine for breaking the law,” states BHA. ” They could even pay their taxes with hemp.”

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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