UK hemp farm could lose £200,000 in crop destruction

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One of the UK’s largest hemp farms expects to lose an estimated £200,000 of sales by destroying its crop after losing its licence to grow it.

Last year, the Home Office said UK farmers could not harvest hemp’s flowers for cannabis oil, or CBD, and could only grow seed and stalk.

The ruling stops farmers extracting the CBD from the flowers – the most valuable part of the crop.

Hempen farm is appealing against the decision to revoke its licence.

The BBC has asked the Home Office for comment.

The final decision was made at the end of last week and the Oxfordshire farm says it started the destruction of its crop on Monday to remain within the law.

‘Crops left to rot’

Hempen would normally sell cold-pressed seed oil and hemp flour from its crop.

It employs 12 people and also uses some casual staff. It hopes to avoid job losses by changing its product offering and continuing to supply CBD by importing it from a European partner.

The plants are being cut down and crushed by a tractor over the farm’s 40 acres of hemp fields.

Hempen co-founder Patrick Gillett said: “In challenging economic times for British farmers, hemp is offering green shoots of hope as a rare crop that can pay for itself without subsidy.

“Instead of capitalising on the booming CBD industry, the Home Office’s bureaucracy is leading British farmers to destroy their own crops, and millions of pounds’ worth of CBD flowers are being left to rot in the fields.”

He added that he felt the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should take over responsibility of regulating farmers from the Home Office.

What is hemp?

Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant that contains little or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but does contain CBD.

THC is the part of the plant that gets people high, which is something that CBD cannot do because it has no psychoactive effect.

Hemp is used for a wide variety of things, including fibreboard, environmentally-friendly plastic substitutes and – outside the UK – for food. It can be turned into everything from clothes to shoes, paper, animal feed and building insulation.

UK hemp-growing rules

The Home Office has various rules and conditions for people to grow hemp in the UK

  • They must have a licence which usually costs £580 or £326 for a renewal
  • Contact details must be provided, along with the location and hectarage of the field where the hemp will be grown
  • The Home Office needs to know the seed type used and confirmation of whether it is approved by the EU
  • Growers must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
  • Crops may have to be screened or grown sensitively, for example not near schools or areas of public access

Source: Home Office website

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