It’s hardly surprising the not for profit co-operative is calling for such direct action when back in 2019 their whole business was upended when the Home Office abruptly revoked their hemp farming licence.
As if that wasn’t bad enough the Home Office then ordered them to destroy their entire season’s crop with an estimated loss of £200k. The picture above was taken as the crop was being destroyed and since then, they have twice applied for a new 3-year licence and on both occasions, the application has been rejected. As the Home Office does not comment on individual licence applications, they are in dark as to the reasons why.
It’s not as if Hempen are new to the game, they have an impressive pedigree, having one of the UK’s largest hemp farms and the first to be certified organic. Whilst they can still grow the seed and stalk of the hemp plant which they use to produce their range of organic hemp seed oil products, without the flowers, the collective which is based at the Hardwick Estate in Oxfordshire, can no longer produce their own Hemp CBD oil. Instead, they now import CBD oil, relying on a network of fellow organic hemp farmers who share their values.
In fact, it might surprise you to know that because of regulations, all UK CBD oil is imported. Yes, it may be specially blended at UK based production plants to create the specific products we buy to help manage conditions like anxiety or pain, but the CBD oil that is used is not homegrown – which is a disaster for UK hemp farmers.
The fight back begins
It would be too easy to dismiss Hempen’s ‘Overgrow The Regime – Grow Hemp’ campaign as a sensationalist move to grab headlines but they do have a point. As the rest of the world takes advantage of the boom in hemp CBD products, the UK’s licensing laws seem outdated and not geared to either support or level the playing field between UK hemp farmers and their global counterparts.
For example, when the US passed the 2018 Hemp Farm Bill they legalised the growth, distribution and sale of industrialised hemp, allowing it to be “cultivated for any use” – including the production and extraction of CBD. The bill has freed American farmers to produce hemp for CBD use whilst also providing strict regulations eg. maximum level of permitted THC.
n the UK, the current legislation stops hemp farmers from harvesting the flowers, extracting cannabinoids or creating CBD products which means that farmers can’t produce whole-plant CBD oil products unless they import from abroad.
In the UK, the current legislation stops hemp farmers from harvesting the flowers, extracting cannabinoids or creating CBD products which means that farmers can’t produce whole-plant CBD oil products unless they import from abroad.
In case you’re wondering why the hemp flower is so important, it’s because the flower contains the highest concentration of cannabidiol (CBD) so you can see why UK hemp farmers like Hempen feel like they’re trying to operate with one hand tied behind their back.
Whilst they are still permitted to grow the seed and stalk of the hemp plant to produce their organic hemp seed oil products, without the flowers, the collective which is based at the Hardwick Estate in Oxfordshire, can no longer produce their own ‘seed to bottle’ Hemp CBD oil. Instead, they work with organic hemp farmers who share their production values and import the CBD.
In fact, all UK CBD oil is imported, it may be specially blended at UK based production plants to create products designed to help manage certain conditions such as anxiety or pain, but the CBD oil that is used is not homegrown – which is a disaster for UK hemp farmers.
We’re not experts when it comes to legislation but it does strike us as odd that the Government is not doing more to support the UK industrial hemp industry and brands to produce their own ‘seed to bottle’ hemp CBD products rather than forcing them to import from abroad. The cultivation of hemp CBD could be a major boost to the UK economy and would probably make quality control inspections a lot easier so as a strategy, the Government’s current position doesn’t really seem to make any sense…
Building a ‘Grow Hemp’ community
Hempen is out to create a ‘Grow Hemp’ community of like-minded supporters including farmers, environmentalists, gardeners, landowners, change-makers and anyone who is interested and wants to lend their support. So this past weekend, supporters converged on the Hardwick Estate where they could all network and campaign plan, exchanging ideas and thoughts.
A campaign that’s not just about CBD
Hempen’s campaign is not just about recovering the ability to grow hemp for CBD production but a call for wider reform of industrial hemp licensing legislation.
Enabling farmers to produce more industrial hemp will also benefit the environment because it’s a bio-remediation crop which means it cleans and protects the soil from harmful pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals.
It’s also an absorber of carbon with Cambridge University Researcher Darshil Shah stating in an interview with design publication Dezeen that hemp can capture atmospheric carbon twice as effectively as forests while providing carbon-negative biomaterials for architects and designers.
He told the publication that industrial hemp absorbs between 8 to 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare of cultivation vs forests which typically capture 2 to 6 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year depending on the number of years of growth, the climatic region and the type of trees.
Hemp is also a natural building material that relies on plant, not mineral-based input which makes it 7 times stronger and half as heavy as concrete, with insulating properties that also reduce the energy demands of the building.
These are just two of the benefits of industrial hemp and if you want to know more you’ll find a load of interesting facts on Hempen’s website.
Whilst we would always urge everyone to stay on the right side of the law, we can understand Hempen’s frustration at being stopped from growing a plant they had grown for years as well as the fact they are none the wiser as to why the Home Office has twice refused their licence application.
We hope that together with their supporters they can devise an action plan that will put pressure on the government to at least review the current regulations. If Governments around the world can see the benefits of hemp cultivation for CBD and grant the necessary licenses, we hope that if more collective pressure is applied, the UK Government will review and relax its own regulations.
Donate to Hempen’s ‘Outgrow The Regime’ campaign