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NFU backs hemp processor move to save growers unnecessary licence fee costs


The NFU is backing a move by one of the leading hemp processors to bear the burden of licence fee costs being introduced by the Home Office which will penalise all industrial hemp growers in the UK.

Hemptechnology will be writing to all growers to inform them of the action which they estimate could represent up to 60,000 of unnecessary costs. The Home Office introduced licence fees last month under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) without consultation with the industrial hemp industry. It followed a more stringent regime of licences that were introduced in October 2009.

The increasing demand for hemp based products for markets such as the domestic construction industry and the export market for the fibres, used in the manufacture of BMW 5 and 3 series cars, means Hemptechnology is looking to more than double the hectares grown this year.

NFU Vice President Gwyn Jones said: We are continuing to lobby for the removal of industrial hemp from the Misuse of Drugs Act and we are aiming to put as much pressure as possible on the Home Office. The continued inclusion is creating significant burdens for growers and the developing domestic processing and manufacturing industries. It is ludicrous that an industrial fibre crop continues to be subject to rules created for controlling illegal drugs. Industrial hemp has an important role to play in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, providing diversification in break crops for growers and creating green jobs in the UK.

Hemptechnology should be applauded for their positive action on this issue. However, the unnecessary and significant costs, along with the increased  administration burden from the licence regime threatens the future of this industry.

  1. Fees were introduced this November without consultation of the industrial hemp and farming sector.
  2. The licence system for industrial Hemp was made more stringent in October 2009 following changes introduced under the Home Office to the licensing controls.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Defra and DECC support the use of industrial hemp uses in green technologies such as for renewable low carbon construction material.

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