A major UK hemp farm must destroy a crop worth an estimated £200,000 after the Home Office denied it a licence.
Hempen Farm in Oxfordshire says it has started destroying its crop in order to comply with the law. The plants are being cut down and crushed by a tractor.
Last year, the Home Office said UK farmers could not harvest hemp’s flowers for cannabis oil or CBD and are limited to only growing seed and stalk – despite CBD being legal in the UK.
The Home Office has not yet commented on its decision.
Hempen, which is appealing the decision, would normally sell cold-pressed seed oil and hemp flour from its crop.
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.”
The 40-acre farm employs 12 people, as well as seasonal staff. The owners say they hope to avoid job losses by changing its product offering and continuing to supply CBD imported from Europe.
The Home Office website outlines the rules and conditions surrounding growing hemp in the UK:
· Growers must have a licence which usually costs £580 or £326 for a renewal
· Contact details must be provided, along with the location and hectarage of the field where the hemp will be grown
· The Home Office needs to know the seed type used and confirmation of whether it is approved by the EU
· Growers must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
· Crops may have to be screened or grown sensitively, for example not near schools or areas of public access