We like to keep up to date with as much as possible in the world of hemp and cannabis so to try and get an idea of the size of the industry as it stands at the moment we put in some Freedom of Information Requests.
We are well aware that you cannot cultivate cannabis in the UK without one of these, almost elusive licences – unless you work for a pharmaceutical company your chances of getting a licence are pretty slim, unless you are a hemp farmer but that’s for a completely different crop purpose and shouldn’t really be confused with drug varieties of the plant – although the Government are pretty good at that too still.
We asked in January:
Their reply at the Home Office was semi-satisfactory. They let us have some of the information but due to Data Protection we are unable to find out who hold the licences – we know how many were given out though.
Thank you for your e-mail of 13 January regarding the number of licences granted by the
Home Office in the year of 2014, for legally growing cannabis in the UK under Section 7 of
the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. You have specifically asked to know what they were
approved for, whether for medical research or hemp and any other category that they may
Your request has been handled as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
The general policy of the Home Office is not to disclose, to a third party, personal
information about another person or an organisation. This is because we have obligations
under the Data Protection Act and in law generally to protect this information. Your
request for the above information has been considered in line with our obligations under
the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
Although happy we have got some of the information it is a shame that we do not know if these licences are at all held by a person cultivating for themselves or if it is only available to organisation.
I would like to clarify that cultivation of all varieties of the genus Cannabis can only lawfully
occur in the UK under licence issued in accordance with Regulations 5 and 12 of the
Misuse of Drugs Regulations (MDR) 2001. The genus Cannabis contains
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive component within the plant which is
subject to control.
Cultivation of cannabis can only take place under Home Office licence issued in
accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; this licensing requirement applies
irrespective of the THC content of the plant.
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
The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2001 restricts the licit use of cannabis to
possession for research (High THC) or “other special purposes”. Low THC cannabis grow
for the commercial production of industrial hemp fibre or the pressing of seed for oil is an
“other special purpose” within the meaning of Section 7(4)(a) of the MDA.
And now for the detail…
We have taken your request into full consideration and we can confirm the number of Low
THC (industrial hemp) and High THC licences granted in 2014 is as follows:
Low THC – 7
High THC – 5
So as it stands last year, in 2014 the UK Home Office authorised 7 licences for Hemp cultivation and 5 licences for High THC cannabis.
Unfortunately we are not aware of any patient that has been granted the same rights to grow their own cannabis medicine as GW Pharmaceuticals have been awarded. Sadly not enough patients are able to access the medication, Sativex that they produce as it has restricted funding in the UK but it is available in 24 other countries.
Do you know of a hemp farm near you? It is mid July so they will be just starting to flower now to start forming their seeds. Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk, Yorkshire, and Surrey have all been home to a hemp farm in the last few years. Send us your photo’s if you come across one in 2015.
Have you applied for a High THC or Low THC hemp licence before. We would love to hear about the process you went through. Leave a comment below.