One of the UK’s largest hemp farms, Hempen, expects to lose about £200,000 of sales by destroying its crop after it says it lost its licence to grow it.
In November 2018 the Home Office guidance said UK farmers could not harvest hemp flowers for cannabis oil, or CBD, but could continue to grow seed and stalk.
However, last Thursday the Home Office told the firm that it would have to cease production entirely.
Hempen said it was being unfairly penalised and would appeal and is seeking legal advice. It also criticised a “lack of clarity” in government regulation.
Following Home Office guidance last November, Oxfordshire-based Hempen said it had stopped growing Hemp for CBD purposes.
It instead focused its growing efforts on seed and stalk, which can be used to make cold-pressed seed oil and hemp flour among other products.
Hempen has been clear in the statements submitted each year to the Home Office around how the plant was to be used. The Home Office raised no issues with the intended use of the plant over the course of the three-year license, and so to have the full license revoked mid season has come as an emotional and financial shock.
The farm says it started the destruction of its crop on Monday to remain within the law.
The plants are being cut down and crushed by a tractor over the farm’s 40 acres of hemp fields.
This highly punitive decision puts UK hemp farmers at a disadvantage, where the most valuable part of the crop, which is used to extract CBD globally (except in the UK) is rendered worthless.
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: “The government should move the responsibility of regulating farmers over to DEFRA and legislate to stop our CBD spending being sent abroad and be used to secure the future of British farming.”
Source – Hempen