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Home Office urged to back down over new charges for industrial hemp growers


The NFU is urging the Home Office to review the introduction of licence fees under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) which will penalise all industrial hemp growers in the UK.

The fees come into force on November 15 and are being brought in without consultation with the industrial hemp industry. It follows a more stringent regime of licences that were introduced by the Home Office last year and risk killing off the shoots of a re-emerging green industry.

The Home Office licences are required despite duplicating existing control and monitoring of industrial hemp by Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The NFU believes that the current licensing system is a product of legislation aimed at controlling the misuse of harmful narcotic substances, and is inappropriate for managing the production of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is not regulated in this way in any other European country, with no discernible ill-effects.

NFU Vice President Gwyn Jones said: The NFU has been working hard to ensure the difficulties from the change in the licensing regime introduced last year are understood by the Home Office and removed in order to prevent damage to the developing renewable materials industry. These licence fees are now potentially the bale of straw that will break the industrys back. We are urging the Home Office to review this situation and to remove industrial hemp from the MDA as the regulation is not only costly to Government and farmers but is doubling up on existing controls with no clear justification for its existence.

1.      Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA 1971), all cannabis varieties, including industrial hemp, are controlled as a Class B drug. No distinction is made between cannabis with high levels of the main psychoactive chemical compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and varieties with negligible levels such as those used in growing industrial hemp. Consequently, a licence to grow industrial hemp is required under the MDA 1971.

2.      The NFU has been working alongside Hemptechnology to highlight the inappropriate nature and the problems created from the inclusion of industrial hemp varieties in the Misuse of Drugs Act including the unnecessary burden placed on farmers through the licensing regime

3.      The recent change to licences and the introduction of fees has been without consultation with the NFU and Hemptechnology.

4.      Defra and DECC support the use of industrial hemp uses in green technologies such as for renewable low carbon construction material

5.      Hemp uses range from the revival of traditional uses in food and textiles to innovative developments in construction, material and chemical industries. It is particularly attractive due to its potential to utilise all parts of the crop. Further to this wide range of uses as an end product, industrial hemp offers important benefits as a crop in arable rotations.

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