The short answer is yes, but it’s tricky to navigate & can take a long time to become licensed.
Humans have been growing hemp and other plants from the cannabis family for many millennia. But it wasn’t until very recently that governments started outlawing its cultivation. As it stands, growing hemp, otherwise known to lawmakers as THC free cannabis, needs special permission and requires the grower to meet certain requirements before being granted permission.
Hemp is one of the most industrious and sustainable plants known to us. Its cultivation is CO2 neutral, and it improves soil fertility by isolating carbon and fixing nitrogen. This means that not only does hemp growing not have a negative effect on the environment, it actually has a positive one.
Hemp also grows prolifically and has high yields, with one acre of hemp making the same amount of paper as 4 acres of trees. This abundance is one reason we have found so many uses for it.
Hemp currently has around 25,000 different uses. Its main components are oil and fibre which means we are able to produce food, culinary and medicinal oils, teas, body care products, paper, building material, textiles, and rope, to name a few uses. Combining hemp with the latest advancements in construction and industrial production techniques has also resulted in the invention of the very durable and sustainable hempcrete and hemp plastic.
Is growing hemp in the UK legal?
Hemp farming has a long agricultural history, with the oldest hemp products found to be around 10,000 years old. But things changed in the 1940s after the Second World War when a law was introduced that restricted the growth of hemp in favour of nylon, plastics and paper made with tree pulp.
Currently, THC rich cannabis is illegal to cultivate in the UK while THC free cannabis is not. But unlike the farming of other produce, hemp production in the UK requires a licence and its approval is based on a set of domestic control measures.
Thinking about growing hemp in the UK?
Hemp production in the UK requires a hemp growing licence from the Home Office. One of the conditions of the licence is that the level of THC in the plant is no higher than 0.2%. The application form can be found on the Home Office Drugs Licencing Website.
Domestic control measures
- Applications cost £580 and renewal costs £326 per year
- Applicant to undergo a Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check
- Apply using the online application form (MD 29) on the Home Office Drugs Licensing Website
- MD 29 requires applicant to provide:
- contact details
- field location numbers
- names or grid references
- hectarage details
- farm map with a marked growing area
- seed type, THC content, and confirmation of whether this is a European Union approved seed
Conditions before and while growing hemp in the UK
- The Home Office may ask you to screen or locate your crop sensitively
- You’ll need to inform the Home Office of any changes to your growing season or planting location for your licence to be amended
- Before you get started, you’ll be required to tell local police where you’ll be growing hemp
- You must also hold a licence before you can begin to grow hemp and your licence must be renewed before every growing season
If this doesn’t deter you, you will be one of the few who’s not afraid of wading through the red tape and unfounded negativity towards this sustainable plant.
In case you’re wondering, and many people do, we’ve written an article on the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil.
For more information, visit the home office site, or read through the Low THC Cannabis (Industrial Hemp) Licencing Factsheet.