Organic hemp farming co-op Hempen has estimated a potential £2.4m financial loss from the destruction of its crop after the Home Office revoked its licence to grow hemp in the UK.
Last year, the Home Office said UK farmers could not harvest hemp flowers for cannabis oil, or CBD, but could continue to grow seed and stalk. But officials have now told the co-op that it has to cease production entirely, leaving the Oxfordshire-based farm with no other option than to destroy the crop.
A BBC News report put the estimated losses to the co-op at £200,000 but Hempen says the figure is actually much higher. Referring to the BBC’s estimate in a blog on its website, the co-op said: “That is a large figure, especially for a small business. But it pales in comparison to our calculations of the potential revenue we could have generated.
“The 40 acres lost to us this week could have been transformed into £2.4m as CBD at retail price, for a not-for-profit farming co-operative. Of this, £480,000 would have been tax for the UK government!
“This decision has a far-reaching impact on our co-operative and all its operations, on us as a community and on all of our customers and volunteers who help to keep our co-operative alive.”
The co-op’s co-founder Patrick Gillett said: “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.”
Hempen has now launched a petition to change hemp farming laws. The petition says: “In the UK it is legal to import and sell CBD produced from EU hemp farmers. In the UK it is legal to grow hemp under license.
“It is illegal for a UK hemp farmer to produce CBD from his crop. How can a product that is legally sold in the UK be illegal for UK farmers to produce?”
The Home Office said it does not comment on individual licences.