by Seshata on 10/04/2013 | Uncategorized

How to start a hemp business: UK

It is legal to cultivate hemp in the UK, subject to certain conditions and fees. Unfortunately, the requirements set out by the UK government render it near to impossible for a hobby gardener to grow a few plants in the back garden. However, despite criticisms of the high license fee cost, the overall cost of setting up a small-to-medium hemp business are not prohibitively high.


It is legal to cultivate hemp in the UK, subject to certain conditions and fees. Unfortunately, the requirements set out by the UK government render it near to impossible for a hobby gardener to grow a few plants in the back garden. However, despite criticisms of the high license fee cost, the overall cost of setting up a small-to-medium hemp business are not prohibitively high.

What are the requirements?

To successfully apply for a license to cultivate hemp, you must be registered as a company with Companies House, with a valid company number. Company details must be provided to the Home Office Controlled Drugs Licensing department in order to register online and complete the application.

The available information is far from clear. In the Home Office Low THC Cannabis (Industrial Hemp) Licensing Factsheet (May 2012), there are several references to the need for each individual grower to be separately licensed; however, there is no option for an individual to register online to apply for the license—only companies may register. The login form for company registration with the Home Office can be found here.

Companies must also submit a statement to the Drugs Licensing department that clearly outlines the location, grid references, annotated map and hectarage of the proposed grow site. This statement must also contain details of the type of seed sown, THC content of the variety in question and evidence that the variety is approved by the EU.

How to start a hemp business: UK
Seeds must be of an EU-approved variety and must produce plants with no more than 0.2% THC.

What licensees can and cannot do

Upon receipt of a valid license, companies are thereby entitled to cultivate hemp with a THC content of 0.2% or lower. Concealment stipulations have become less restrictive over the years: in the past, cultivators were required to screen their crops, and to locate them away from schools, roads and public rights of way. While this is no longer a stipulation, growers are requested to “site the crop sensitively”.

Growers must also keep a record of growing locations, and submit this record to the local police. As a license covers an entire farm, grow sites may be moved around from field to field without amending the license (although records must still be kept); however, if relocating the grow to an entirely new site, an amendment must be made to the license and a whole new license application may be needed.

Cultivators in possession of a three-year license must also complete an Annual License Review Statement at the start of each growing season and before May 1st of each year.

License fees

The cost to apply for a hemp cultivation license is £580, and the fee for each subsequent renewal is £326. If a compliance visit is required, the fee will rise to £1371; however, these checks are needed in less than 10% of all cases, and are considered unlikely. Applications are processed using the “light-touch regime”, which ensures that most are considered solely on the basis of the online application and are not dependent on a satisfactory compliance visit.

Licenses are valid for three years, but always expire on the 31st December of the final year. Therefore, applicants submitting forms in January-March 2012 will be able to utilise the three full growing seasons afforded them, but those submitting later than March may lose out on some or all of one growing season.

How to start a hemp business: UK
Hemp fibre producers may be eligible for the SPS agricultural subsidy

Criminal Records Checks

Company representatives applying for a hemp license from the Home Office must pay for an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CBR) Check, which costs £60.80 (2012) and must be requested from Capita recruitment vetting services, with Home Office Drugs Licensing noted as the Registered Body. No other screening service is acceptable.

Final Considerations

If renting the land intended for cultivation of hemp, it is not necessary for the landlord to apply for a cultivation license; only the grower must apply. However, it may be advisable to inform and seek permission or approval from the landlord prior to commencing cultivation, to ensure that compliance with the lease terms is upheld.

Fibre crop cultivators may be eligible for the Single Payment Scheme, an important agricultural subsidy. Further information on the SPS can be found here.

If growing at multiple locations, each location must be licensed fully and separately. In such cases, it is advisable to contact the Drugs Licensing and Compliance department via email: industrialhemplicensing@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. This email address can also be used for any other questions related to your specific situation.

Comment Section

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Nick

Very interesting .. thank's Seshata !

15/04/2013

john

any information on requirements for high thc cannabis, i know that the licence cost is GBP4700, but is there any other restrictions to grow?

01/05/2016

dd

yeh you have to be in the pharmacutical industy joe blogs has not a hope in hell

26/09/2017

Deputy Doofy.

I have some information on the high thc strains john. they are illegal

15/12/2016

Rich

Do you know any more info with regards to having a buyer for the hemp, in place before application is approved? Cheers

11/01/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hello Rich,

Thank you for your comment. I'm afraid I don't have any further information for you about this, possibly if you contact the Home Office on the email address in the article (industrialhemplicensing@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) they may be able to tell you if this is a requirement or not. Please let us know if you do get an answer from them :)

With best wishes,

Scarlet

12/01/2017

Ed

The article says, "Licenses are valid for three years", but on the government's application page it says, "Licences last for a growing season, and you must renew your licence before you can begin to grow for the next season", and with the same price: "New licences usually cost £580, with licence renewals costing £326."
https://www.gov.uk/hemp-growing-licence

19/01/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Ed,

Thank you for your comment, I have passed it on to the author of this article and we will update as necessary.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

19/01/2017

Seshata

Hi, thanks Ed - the text on the government site has been altered since this article was published. We'll make an update.

10/02/2017

Seshata

In fact, you can see the previous text here (hemp growing guidelines 2012 and 2014) :
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/480810/Hemp-_FAQs-Grower_notes-2014.pdf
– and here :
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/98049/Hemp-growers-notes.pdf

10/02/2017

Michael Palmer

Having an RT 34 years ago. Find times are changing . Great site .Chandra Palmer.

04/05/2017

Ian

Is there anyone who can give me any information on where I can sell the industrial hemp once I have grown it in the uk? Also what profit is there in growing on 1-2 acres of land in the uk

Thank you

Ian

15/05/2017

Karen

Just do a search for Hemp Processing plants uk.

12/06/2017

Rachael

Did you manage to find this info? I'm also interested if you did. Cheers.

17/08/2017

have u sourced a buyer ? and where can you get the seeds from to grow license has been applied for but coming up against brickwalls as to suppliers.

great.

09/05/2019

Michael Palmer.

Would be worth knowing. Has government an agenda yet. Medical CBDs' saving lives maybe a spray shrinking tumors even a healthly way as a preventitive.How about taxes in 1-2 hectares .Who buys all those beatifull buds.?. £4750 a licence OK. ...now what,where and who.
,

29/05/2017

Jay

Hi can anyone tell me about the higher THC licenses priced at £4700 what thc levels does this allow also what is the CBD percentage levels you are allowed. Does it have to be grow in fields or can it be in warehouse hydroponically?

12/08/2017

Green_fingers81

THC levels have to be at 0.2% or lower.
License for higher THC strains are solely given to members of the scientific and pharmaceutical industry only.
There is 0% chance of any regular citizen gaining this form of licencing. Unfortunately the UK government seems adamant on continued denial of the benefits (both medicinal and financial) to the country, big pharma don't like the idea of people growing their own medicine, how would your GP afford his nice home and flash car haha!
We seem to be the only country who are not willing to say "we were wrong" they make far too much money from prescription drugs, alcohol and tobacco to do so. It is a very sad state of affairs.

17/10/2017

Ralph

Hello Guys,

Does anyone know anything about importing the hemp shiv to the UK from the EU. It is a hemo shiv coming from the fully legal crops. Are there any additional regulations in UK?? Maybe you know some companies that may be intrested in buying it?

regards

Ralph S

25/09/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for your comment. I'm afraid I can't answer this question, but you could try getting in touch with our industrial hemp sister company HempFlax on info@hempflax.com to see if they have more information.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

26/09/2017

Andy

After reading all of the above, and knowing,that theres so many like minded folk out there, who live normal, productive lives, contributing to society, but yet denied a simple weed that beyond doubt, has such positive benefits to so many in so many ways, Is so cheap to produce for medicinal and sociable reasons. but our drugs minister tells us there is no legitimate medicinal benefit from cannabis ,, and then we find out her husband actually makes a living from doing just this!!!! Growing Weed!!! GuysNgals watch this space the Gov is being forced into a corner and I think medicinal CBS will be allowed,, but under strict license,, so this means that once again government will give to the select already well heeled cronies, to make vast fortunes when it should be free to all,, while still making it illegal to grow some persi in ya shed.
i hope more people read your threads and a voice is found big enough to say Hey I thought this was a Democracy you cannot let some,,, and make illegal for everyone else ,, we need to say F-ck off for once! instead of bleeting like sheep and following the misguided herd. VIVA POT :)) rant over,, but come on, not one cannabis related death but numerous cancers killed ???

13/03/2018

Mike

Would people with a criminal record (historic drugs offences)?be ineligible for obtaining a license?

30/03/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Mike,

Good question, which I'm afraid I don't have an answer for. Your best bet is to contact the Home Office and ask them directly. Sorry I can't be of more help,

with best wishes,

Scarlet

03/04/2018

Pete

Hiya just wondering on any information on growing hemp indoors for smoke able buds??

25/04/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your comment. I'm afraid I don't really understand the question, as hemp does not produce buds that you would want to smoke? For general information, please use the site search function to search for 'indoor growing', and also check out our forum where you can read about people's personal experiences and ask any cultivation questions that you may have.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

26/04/2018

Gareth

I'm living in an area that in parts is desperate for regeneration and local work , and there's acres of abandoned land here ( which is probably council 'owned' now I'd imagine ) . I'm not sure if I'd get a license but I'd love to find out . This could provide steady jobs for a decent amount of locals overall. Maybe I need guidance and help with this tho.

12/06/2018

Paul

We are applying for a licence in the Isle of Man.
I need to form a network of people in the trade on main land uk.
We have our own government so the whole process is going to be different.
Can anyone point me in the right direction to connect with people with the knowledge and passion for the trade?.
Long road ahead and I feel like a lone wolf flying the flag for hemp o we here stuck on this rock.
Thanks

20/06/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Paul,

My recommendation would be to get in touch with the European Industrial Hemp Association and ask if they can help. Good luck with your endeavour, and please let me know how you get on!

With best wishes,

Scarlet

20/06/2018

James Guttridge

Paul,

Similar situation with me on the main land UK. Early stages but so far so good.

Do the same Home Office rules not apply to applications on the Isle of Man?

Regards

26/06/2018

julian

Hello Paul

I hope your project has been going well for over a year?

I am located in France and I have been passionate for many years. I also worked in the French vineyard in Champagne for ten years.

I am enthusiastic about the idea of coming to the Isle of Man to lend you a helping hand in your business.
Do not hesitate to write to me to discuss together.
cordially

21/08/2019

Adam Short

Old but relevant;

www.gov. uk /government/news/ mhra-statement-on-products-containing-cannabidiol-cbd

08/07/2018

Angie

Hi Paul

Can hemp be grown indoors (with a licence) and then the CBD oil extracted from this for personal medication?

Angie

09/07/2018

Tom

I would also like to try grow indoors,I don’t know where to start if they require Grid Locations etc.
What is required To grow small scale at home or garden

Thanks

Tom

21/07/2018

Sally Jones

Where can this oil actually be sold to after cultivation , or do you need to sell direct to the government?

31/07/2018

jackie

Hi, is industrial Hemp safe to consume for humans?

12/08/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Jackie,

You don't specify what method of consumption you mean or what effect you would be trying to achieve so this is not as simple as a 'yes'(although the short answer is 'yes') ... industrial hemp is not psychoactive so it would be safe, but pointless, to use it to try to achieve a high. However, the flowers do contain CBD so vaping them to achieve pain relief or other health benefits might work; however, industrial hemp is not grown for high levels of CBD so it would not be the best advice. Herbal teas can be made from industrial hemp leaves and flowers and are mainly enjoyed for their flavour. The seeds from industrial hemp are extremely healthy and nutritious and have been enjoyed by humans and animals for thousands of years. I hope this answers your question, if not, please let me know and I'll try to explain further.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

14/08/2018

Manuel Petitat

Hi,

What is the legal thc-content to sell hemp in a shop in the UK (<0.2%, <0.3%, <1%)?

Thank you,

Manuel

15/09/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Manuel,

To my knowledge, the legal THC limit for industrial hemp in the UK is less than 0.2%, in line with the majority of Europe.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

17/09/2018

john

Was a very good article compared to some other hemp pieces ive read. MY question would be is it legal to grow hemp indoors instead out doing it outdoors in a farm as ive tried to research it but there is no answer and nothing hinting that it is illegal but I would love to make sure its legal 100% before I start planning stages of growing

06/06/2019

Scarlet Palmer

Hi John,

Thank you for your positive feedback! That's a really interesting question, which unfortunately I don't know the answer to. Perhaps one of our other readers does? Otherwise, you could perhaps contact the European Industrial Hemp Association (eiha.com) and see if they can advise you. In the meantime, good luck with your project, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

06/06/2019

Manu Locka

Hi there ! I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction here. I'm looking at retailing Hemp cosmetic, clothing and imported oil / low thc flowers. My question is, what is legal or illegal and what is the Tax% on these products !? I want to respect the law but it can be very confusing..

25/06/2019

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Manu,

Thank you for your comment, and your support for hemp! Unfortunately I do not have the answers to your questions, but I recommend that you contact the European Industrial Hemp Association (eiha.org) who will hopefully be able to help you. Good luck with your project!

With best wishes,

Scarlet

26/06/2019

Jamie Walker

Hi, I'm a Microgreens grower and wondered whether there were any licensing requirements to grow Hemp Microgreens? They are a mega superfood & actually second to none in many of their nutrients, not to mention curative properties. If anyone knows it's be good to hear. Cheers, Jamie.

13/08/2019

caspar

Sorry my dudes they have changed the UK law. "No harvesting of the leaves and flowers."

18/11/2019

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