UK Industrial Hemp| Two Farmers Outlooks and Knowledge + Home Office Requirements

WHY YOU SHOULD BE USING HEMP? | Nick Voase. Since 2002

Industrial hemp has many environmental benefits – some are directly due the use of the various parts of the plant by industry or pet owners, others are due to the reduction in use of oil-derived products and some as a consequence of growing hemp. Hemp requires no pesticides in its growing and its deep rooting leaves a good soil structure for the following crop. The vigorous growth of hemp helps to control difficult weeds in wheat crops reducing their pesticide demand. Because hemp is a natural product as it grows it uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, when hemp is used in a building that carbon dioxide is locked up for the life of the building.

Hemp has been grown for thousands of years and has had many different uses from food to shelter of both man and his animals, sails and ropes for ships and paper. Hemp was first grown in Asia, and is one of the oldest culitvated fibre plants – in fact, the oldest piece of fabric fibre ever found is an 8,000 year old piece of hemp. Early chinese civilisations used hemp to make fishing nets, ropes, clothes and paper. Plants soon spread to Europe, and hemp and lime has traditionally been used as a building material in France.

Queen Elizabeth I decreed that all farms must grow hemp to supply fibre for the production of ropes and canvas sails to equip the Royal Navy. Hemp withstands the effects of sea water better than any other fibre. Until the late 1880s most paper was made from hemp, and even today bank notes contain some hemp fibre for strengh. Levi Strauss’ first jeans were made from hemp sailcloth but were too tough and lasted too long to be commercially viable. Henry Ford built a prototype car with plastic body panels made from resin stiffened cellulose fibres which included hemp. Several countries including France and Japan have a history of using hemp shiv and lime as building material so this use is not a new idea.

Hemcore Limited pioneered hemp growing in the UK to supply fibre for use in Mercedes and VW car interiors.

One of the first people in England to recognise the benefits of hemp/lime construction was Ralph Carpenter of Modece Architects (  Ralph built a hempcrete extension to his own house in Suffolk. At present there is a huge amount of interest in developing hemp as a renewable building material. Many houses and commercial buildings have been built using hempcrete, and the techniques and methods are continually being developed.

Other uses of industrial hemp include:

  • Seeds used in cereal bars
  • Cooking and salad oil
  • Hemp oil in cosmetics and medicines
  • Industrial paints and printing ink
  • Plastics made from the cellulose in hemp shiv
  • Hemp beer
  • Fishing bait
  • Compressed shiv building grade fibreboard
  • Briquettes of compressed shiv as fuel for log burners
  • Fibre for ropes, clothing, mattress fillings, carpets, loft insulation and car components
  • High grade papers, bank note, tissues, hand towels, tea bags etc – items where wet strength is critical

The Commercial case for industrial hemp cultivation and processing in the UK | Steve Glover 26th October 2019

Hemp is a dual harvest crop – harvested for seed and stalk.

The seed is extremely nutritious with a full amino acid profile and a perfect balance of omegas 3, 6 and 9. Hemp contains more protein than beef and more omega 3, 6 & 9 than salmon.

The stalk is used for a myriad of purposes –construction, textiles, paper etc etc.

Hemp cultivation is similar in practicalities to any grain production, using the same machinery and techniques.

Hemp grows from late April until early October.

Hemp sequesters carbon. One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb approximately 15 tonnes of CO2 making it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools. Industrial hemp is the perfect carbon sink because it absorbs more CO2 per hectare, annually, than any other commercial crop or commercial forestry.

The UK is ideally suited to the cultivation of industrial hemp. It will withstand a variety of different weather conditions and soil types.

The flowers contain arrange of cannabinoids which are extremely useful in the nutraceutical manufacturing processes. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are also showing an increased interest. The cannabinoid market in the UK is largely unregulated but generates £480M in 2018 etc. Currently, under Home Office legislation it is illegal to harvest the flowers and they must be destroyed on site. All CBD therefore that is for sale in the UK is imported.

Current position, finances, manufacturing and processing (seed):

Seed processing infrastructure exists throughout the UK at a variety of locations. The same machinery is used for pressing linseed, rape etc. The secondary processing infrastructure also exists for manufacturing into food products – meat replacements, protein bars, milk replacements etc.

Current position, finances, manufacturing and processing


Stalk processing infrastructure does not exist in the UK with one notable exception – the East Yorkshire Hemp Company. (EYHC produce hemp-crete, animal bedding, soil fuel and fibre for the manufacturing industry.

Decortication is the process of separating the fibre from the woody part of the stalk.

Cost is £1.5m for the decortication machinery alone. Decortication is required because some processes (textiles, fibreglass replacement, insulation, graphene) require the fibre while other processes (flushable paper products, building materials, solid fuels) require the wood part of the stem.


A colleague in Ireland is investing £20m into a hemp paper making plant. Feedstock will be grown locally. He would be happy to assist with a similar project here in the UK.

We should have a hemp paper making factory here in the UK for a number of reasons: The pulp and paper industry traditionally uses wood pulp and is the 3rd largest industrial polluter due to many factors including transport, energy use (5th largest consumer of energy in Europe) and chlorine based bleaches (3 million tonnes) which enter the water supply. Paper production uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry and it produces almost 32 million tonnes of CO2 in Europe and 120 billion tonnes worldwide every year.

A strategy that includes the creation of employment, a carbon negative industry and makes the UK more self-sufficient.

  • Regional hubs with decortication machinery, paper pulping and seed pressing.
  • Farmers within a 80 mile radius growing feedstuff for the processes


  • Employment
  • Self-reliant paper tissue industry
  • Self reliant cardboard and packaging materials industry
  • Carbon negative activities
  • Pollution free activities
  • Hemp seed oil for nutrition locally available
  • Hemp protein for nutrition locally available
  • HempCrete and animal bedding products
  • Fibre for export and internal use – industrial textiles etc



Low THC Cannabis (Industrial Hemp) Licensing Factsheet- September 2017 v 1.2
Drugs Licensing & Compliance- Crime & Policing Group (CPG)

Low THC Cannabis (Industrial Hemp) Licensing Factsheet

This factsheet provides information on the Licensing process for Low THC Cannabis (industrial Hemp). It is intended for existing licensees and prospective growers who need to apply for a licence.

I want to grow cannabis (industrial hemp): do I need a licence?

  • Yes:
    • A licence is required to cover both cultivation and possession.
    • The genus Cannabis is a controlled drug in Class B of The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA and Schedule 1 of The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001).  Under these Regulations, a licence may be issued authorising cultivation.  Low THC cannabis grown for the commercial production of industrial hemp fibre or the pressing of seed for oil are purposes for which licences may be issued where- after harvesting- non-controlled parts of the plant are used and controlled parts of the plant are retted at the licensed location or otherwise lawfully disposed of.
    • Each grower must be individually licensed.
  • In summary, you need to:
    • Obtain an ‘iCasework web app’ login
    • Apply for your enhanced DBS check using the links available on the Home Office website, ensuring the Home Office is noted as the relevant body.
    • Provide payment details for the licence fee, when contacted by the Home Office (see How do I pay a fee? below)
    • Fully complete and submit the application form via the web portal
    • If you have held a licence with us before, ensure you have submitted you’re your Annual Grower Statements previously.
    • Record and retain your application reference number
  • Is there a fee payable?
    • Yes, there is a fee payable for a low THC content cultivate/ possess licence. A new licence application to cultivate cannabis with a THC content of 0.2% or lower will cost £580. If you have previously grown in the 2010 season the ‘renewal’ fee of £326 will apply. If a compliance visit is required the fee will be £1371 but we envisage most applications will not need a visit.
    • This fees structure is considerably lower than a new licence application to cultivate high THC Cannabis which costs £4700 and recognises the light touch licensing regime applied. Fee levels have been calculated on a full-cost recovery basis and will be periodically reviewed.
  • How do I pay a fee?
    • Payment information must be provided to enable the application to be submitted, but payment is not taken at that stage.
    • Assuming your application is approved in principle, we will issue you an invoice by email for immediate payment via our Shared Service Centre.
    • Licences will not be issued without payment being received.
    • If you cultivate before paying for, and receiving your licence, you will be doing so unlawfully.
  • What is the light touch regime?
    • This refers to the proportionate processes by which licence applications are generally considered on the papers; and reflects the fact that in the vast majority of applications we do not expect to have to undertake a site or compliance visit.
  • What restrictions are there on where I plant the crop?
    • In the past the crop has been screened and must have been planted in locations away from schools, public rights of way or vehicular access. In recognition of hemp fibre becoming a more widely used industrial crop, we do not wish to be prescriptive. However, we ask you to site the crop sensitively.
  • Do I need to inform you of where I plant the seed? What if this changes?
    • EU ‘approved’ seed varieties must be sown. We need to maintain a record of planting locations, so you should inform us of any changes within the growing season. Please email quoting your application reference or licence number with full details of any changes.
    • We intend to issue the licence itself to cover a whole farm location so we should not need to amend the licence itself.
    • Renting land on an adjacent farm will need to be licensed and specifically documented on the licence, so, if you rent additional fields you must contact us to discuss an amendment to your licence.
    • You should inform your local police of your growing locations.
  • How long is a licence valid for?
    With effect from the 2012 growing season, licences are typically issued with a validity of three growing seasons- so for up to three years validity.
    • Licenses for the cultivation of low-THC hemp are always issued to expire on 31 December. If a licence application is approved on 31 March 2014 we would issue a licence to expire on 31 December 2016, covering the 2014, 15 and 16 growing seasons.
    • However, if an application is made late and approved on 31 July 2014, a grower may loose the benefit of that growing season as a licence would be issued to expire on 31 December 2016.
    • It is therefore in growers interests to ensure applications are submitted in a timely fashion.
    • If there are substantive changes to a licence- for example amending growing locations outside of your farm’s extent- a fee may be payable for this change as a new licence may need to be issued.
  • Are there any special requirements with a ‘3 year’ licence?
    Yes. Holders of a multi-growing season licence will be required to complete an ‘Annual Licence Review Statement’ at the start of growing season, typically by 1 May. Completion and submission of this proforma will be a mandatory requirement of the licence and without submission a licence may be revoked.
    All relevant forms are available on our website.
  • Do I need to have a DBS check?
    Yes. Since 12 October 2009 satisfactory completion of an enhanced DBS check has been a requirement applicable to all Controlled Drug and Precursor Chemical licence applicants.
    • A fee is payable for an enhanced DBS check.
    • Applications must be made via Capita recruitment vetting services, and the Home Office Drugs Licensing must be noted as the Registered Body. If this process is not followed, any check completed elsewhere is not transferable.
    • Generally speaking, we will not ask you to obtain a further enhanced DBS check, where you obtained one for the purposes of drug licensing, within the last three years.
    • A DBS application must have been lodged before you submit your application for a licence.
  • I rent the land: who needs a licence?
    • The grower, as opposed to the owner of the land, must hold a Home Office licence.
    • The grower may wish to notify his or her landlord of the cultivation and is responsible for ensuring they are complying with the terms of their lease or rental agreement.
  • I am growing at multiple locations- what should I do?
    Each location must be properly and fully licensed. If you are growing within your farm extent, as a general rule this would be covered within your licence. If you are growing at multiple locations, outside of your farm extent- for example renting land from a neighbour of in an adjacent village- you should contact us at and discuss the licensing arrangements that would apply to your situation. We may need to see copies of ‘bare land’ rental agreements.
  • When shall I apply?
    Applications can be submitted immediately, and early application is encouraged. Please allow sufficient time for your application to be processed: you should allow a minimum of 2-4 weeks for a straightforward renewal application. Licences will not be issued until such time as the fee payment is received and time should be allowed for this process.

We specialise in informing hemp growers, processors & buyers alike. Our Network of Specialists are here to help you.


+44 78 52 56 71 39


“This promises to be a magical day – a perfect celebration for anyone seeking an alternative to the commercial challenge of present day Christmas.

Edwin Courtney

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