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CIC backs hemp licensing reforms

CIC backs hemp licensing reforms

New Home Office proposals to increase the permissible THC levels in hemp seeds to “at least 0.3%” have been backed by the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC).

Currently, THC levels in hemp seeds cannot exceed 0.2%. Due to increased temperatures in the UK, this can lead to stresses in the crop, causing a natural increase in THC in the plant above the limit. This leads to a risk to farmers, who may have to destroy any non-compliant crops.

The Home Office plans were published in a letter from Drugs Minister Chris Philp MP to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The ACMD has been asked to provide advice on the THC limit by October 2024. This proposal will require secondary legislation to be enacted.

The letter also noted the “economic and environmental advantages of hemp fibre”, including its contribution to net zero.

CIC Co-Chair Jamie Bartley said:

“The CIC strongly supports these Home Office proposals, including the plan to increase THC limits, which are important steps towards making industrial hemp economically viable.

“We would like to thank the Home Office and Defra for their constructive approach, which recognises hemp’s key role in environmental sustainability and economic development.”

CIC Hemp Working Group Chair Tony Reeves added:

“Farmers currently face a perfect storm of reduced subsidies, competition with countries with lower standards, as well as an expectation to reduce their carbon emissions.

“Industrial hemp offers a solution to all of these challenges, as well as being used down the supply chain as a sustainable construction product and source of energy.”

There are further changes due to come in for the 2025 growing season. Licence holders will be able to grow hemp anywhere on a licensed farm, the maximum licence duration will be extended from three to six years, and licences can be applied for with a deferred start date.

The CIC and industry partners have been engaging closely with the Home Office and Defra on reforming industrial hemp licensing rules in recent months.

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