UK Hemp Production

UK hemp production halted by out date laws

With a CBD market that has exploded since legislation changed in 2018 and high street shops such as Boots and Selfridges stocking CBD products on their shelves, it would be easy to think that the laws surrounding the sale and production of CBD within this country would be straightforward, however this is far from the case. 

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that is grown specifically for industrial and medical use. It has a higher concentration of CBD than its psychoactive counterparts and a low concentration of the psychoactive chemical, THC. This means that whilst hemp plants may look in some ways similar to a normal cannabis plant, smoking it will not get you high. 

The plant has been favoured for centuries for a number of its properties. In Mesopotamia, there is evidence of hemp string being used upto 5000 years ago, whilst in China the plant has been harvested for over a thousand years for a number of applications including; paper, medicines and fabrics. 

Typically hemp grows fast and is a hardy, low maintenance crop. Hemp fibres are substantially stronger than cotton and are resilient to rot, making them a perfect fit for the naval industry. Whilst the discovery of hemp’s uses came a little later in Europe, during the 16th Century Henry VIII mandated that all farmers must sow a quarter acre of hemp for every 60 acres of land they owned. Whilst hemp was used at the time for a number of industrial and traditional medicinal purposes, the true benefits of hemp would not be unlocked until a much later date.

Today growing hemp in the UK is very different to a mandated scheme, with most CBD and hemp products being imported, due to costly licenses which have to be obtained from The Home Office, along with strict regulations surrounding the harvesting and production of the plant. The UK’s ability to produce hemp on the kind of scale it needs to fulfill our growing CBD market is being seriously hampered by outdated, nonsensical laws. 

How did the UK’s laws in regards to hemp production change so much over time?

Cannabis, as a whole, was outlawed in the United Kingdom in 1928, as part of the growing Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. Hemp unfortunately was given no special treatment, as its lack of psychoactivity was not proved at the time and so it was tarred with the same brush as ‘cannabis’., becoming illegal to grow and use in 1928.