UK Farmers Call On Public To Grow Hemp To End Current Restrictions

A collective of farmers are tired of the outdated and highly restrictive laws on growing hemp in the UK. 

Calling for an end to what they call the “industrial hemp licensing regime”, Liberate Hemp is inviting the public to take up arms by growing their own hemp plants at home and at a ‘mass grow’ in Bristol on June 18. 

What is hemp?

Hemp is simply a type of cannabis that has very low levels of THC (the main psychotropic compound found in cannabis). It has been traditionally grown for industrial purposes, such as for use in rope and textile manufacturing, as well as for its highly nutritious seed. 

More recently, it’s been grown for its CBD content. Like THC, CBD is a common cannabinoid found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, it does not get you ‘high’. In fact, this recent study, published just a few days ago, found even high doses of CBD are non-intoxicating. 

Many studies and countless anecdotes suggest CBD can have profound health benefits, from reducing anxiety and inflammation to easing depression and epilepsy symptoms.  

Read more: A Quick History Of Smokable Hemp Flower In The UK

Current licencing problems 

At present, hemp is treated the same as high-THC cannabis in that you need a licence from the Home Office to grow it. However, despite hemp containing less than 0.2% THC, being non-intoxicating and posing little risk of abuse or harm, obtaining a licence is not so simple.  

To get a licence you’ll need to apply to the Drugs and Firearms unit at the Home Office. This can cost a fair amount, meaning you’ll need large financial backing. You’ll also need a complete business plan, including your reasons for growing hemp and even who you will be selling it to. Your entire team will also need to undergo various checks, and the location of your farm will also need to be approved. 

Speaking to, Zena Winterbottom – former production coordinator at Hempen, an Oxford-based hemp farm – says one farmer has been denied a renewal of his licence because his farm was near a nuclear weapons facility and another because it was near a bed and breakfast. 

Hempen itself was forced to destroy its crop in 2019 after having its annual proposal denied by the Home Office despite holding one for a number of years beforehand. 

Silly laws

Even if you do acquire a licence to grow hemp, you’ll only be allowed to make use of the stalk and seed – the flowers (where cannabinoids like CBD are produced) will need to be disposed of. 

Bizarrely, however, CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids are legal in the UK and can be imported from other countries. Therefore, the UK’s blooming CBD market – currently valued around £300million – is all sourced from outside the UK despite hemp being legal to grow here. Silly, right?

Read more: Is The UK Missing Out On A £500 Million Hemp Flower Industry?

Hemp is a “lifeline”

“Hemp is an amazing economic and ecological lifeline for UK farming” Winterbottom says, “but the licensing regime makes it really difficult to grow and produce it here. Instead, the government seems to want us to import from places with supportive hemp policies like Switzerland, France and China. 

“Like Hempen, farmers that have tried to do everything by the book and have been punished for it by being denied a licence without good reason.

“Hemp is too important for the health of the nation, the health of our communities and the health of our planet to wait for the government to explain why they have criminalised growing it. 

“As a movement we can do things that businesses can’t. We are going to start growing it at home and if that’s wrong they can prosecute us and justify themselves in court.”

Get involved

Liberate Hemp have organised a mass grow on June 18 in Bristol. Their mission is as follows:

“We are calling for an end to the industrial hemp licensing regime.

“The people, communities and farmers should be able to grow hemp freely.

“The hemp licensing regime serves no public benefit, and so it should be scrapped.

“If the government will not get out of the way, then together we have no choice but to grow hemp without them and render the licensing regime redundant.”

If you want to grow your own hemp plant at home, Liberate Hemp have everything you need in this handy guide.

Read more: 10 Reasons Why The UK Should Have A Regulated Hemp Flower Industry

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