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Hemp Licensing. Overgrow the regime.

Hemp Licencing Crop Destruction. UK Hemp.

On the 16th July 2019, we had our hemp licence revoked for producing CBD from the hemp flowers. The UK hemp industry is lagging behind, with mounting concerns towards the hemp licensing regime. It’s time the hemp licensing regime was scrapped and if the government won’t do that then hemp growers will have to go ahead and grow hemp without permission from the Home Office.

Watch the video of the July 2019 hemp crop destruction below.

Hemp Crop Destruction. UK Hemp.

It has been two years since the destruction of our crop.

To stay on the right side of the law (as we always want to do – our livelihoods are built on growing hemp, and we rely on the support of the industry and officials), we had to destroy our beautiful hemp plants growing in the field. We were forced to destroy a perfectly healthy hemp field worth £200,000 as seed and fibre products, which drew international attention on how the UK are regulating hemp. If we were allowed to sell the same field as CBD products  it would have been a £2.4 million loss.

This event, was a damning day for the UK hemp industry. At Hempen, we felt the love and rage from those around the world who were upset by the destruction.

Hempen Co-operative. UK Hemp.
Hemp Licencing Regime UK Hemp.

Due to the UK Hemp licensing regime, our recent hemp licence application has been rejected…for a second year.

This is despite our very best efforts, and legal advice, to follow every request of the Home Office. The application process is complicated, lengthy, judged on a case by case basis, meaning the goal posts can be moved at any moment. The pathway for gaining a hemp licencing is unclear and unsupportive. UK farmers can now only access a hemp licence for industrial seed and fibre production.

All UK CBD is now imported. Hempen was made an example of by the Home Office as a warning to the industry. The message was clear, UK farmers cannot access the CBD market. With our company solely focused on UK hemp production, we have endeavoured to secure a UK hemp licence on our home farm in Oxfordshire, for seed and stalk only. We are successfully partnered with farmers across the UK to continue our production of UK hemp products. Today, every product we organically produce on our farm in Oxfordshire is nearly all UK grown hemp. Our CBD has to be imported from, European neighbours with sensible hemp farming regimes.

International law strongly suggests that industrial hemp should not be a controlled substance.

Two years ago, the World Health Organisation recommended that the United Nations end the scheduling of industrial hemp as an internationally controlled substance as it posed no public health risk. Furthermore, under article 28(2) of the UN’s  1961 Single Convention on Narcotics the whole plant is fully exempted from all the provisions, when used for “industrial” and/or “horticultural” purposes. As such, hemp is not a controlled substance under international law. The UK is a signatory of this convention and yet still classifies industrial hemp as illegal cannabis.

The hemp licencing regime is outdated, not for fit for purpose and is stifling the Green Economy, British Farming and Public Health. We are calling for an end to the industrial hemp licensing regime.

Grow Hemp. UK Hemp Field.

Grow Hemp for the Green Economy

Grow Hemp for British Farming

Grow Hemp for Public Health

Join the campaign to Grow Hemp


Hempen requires more hemp production than the Home Office is willing to dish out. We have adapted our business to every request made by the regime. Yet it’s still not enough for them. We are willing to buy hemp produced by anyone in the UK, as it’s time to overgrow the hemp licencing regime.

Unjustified, archaic hemp licensing regulations.

Licences are regularly issued too late in the growing season for farmers. This year licence applications could not be submitted until January which puts farmers at risk of being left with empty fields, should they be refused. Our partner growers complain of having as many as 4 separate logins and passwords per application. Many farmers are keen to grow hemp for its many benefits to soil health and lucrative end products, however are put off by the process and the associated risks.

The hemp licensing hypocrisy is deafening.

Not only is Medical Cannabis restricted to those who can afford it, UK farmers are cut out of industrial hemp production for the wellbeing aspects of CBD. And not only does hemp provide CBD, but it is one of the most versatile plants out there. It provides sustainable solutions to so many of the world’s problems, including bringing important environmental and economic benefits to UK farmers.

Beautiful feild of hemp growing in South Oxfordshire.

We want to Grow Hemp!

At Hempen home farm in Oxfordshire, we are witnessing our hemp licence applications being continually blocked, as the Home Office rules around industrial hemp threaten the UK hemp and CBD industry as a whole.

We are not the only ones. Farmers are limited in accessing the rights to grow hemp. Despite hundreds of applications, there are only about 20 licensed UK growers, totalling just 2,000 hectares.

It’s a shame this wonder crop is hardly used, or accessible. Especially in times of economic, social and environmental crises.

Hempen’s Co-Founder Patrick Gillett said:

“The UK’s licensing regime has no obvious public benefit and is stifling this emergent green industry at a time when we desperately need jobs which care for our communities and the planet.” 

“If the government won’t get out of the way, then it’s time farmers take direct action to grow this wonder plant without their permission. Hempen needs a bigger supply of organic hemp than we can currently source from farmers who have managed to jump through all the government hoops. There is more demand for organic UK hemp than the Home’s office has licensed.” 

If you are interested in growing hemp or supporting others to grow hemp without a licence, contact us on

Please share your support for this campaign on your social channels to build up the pressure! Share your stories of why you think hemp should be accessible to all, or how hemp as already helped your life journey. Together we are a movement.

It’s time to #GrowHemp and #OvergrowtheRegime


Support the movement – Donate

We believe hemp to be the most important plant on earth. It promotes many, very different uses that promote a more sustainable world, which is coming ever closer to breaking point. 

We have been on a mission to ‘Co-operatively cultivate hemp solutions that enhance the health of people, community and planet.’ 

Our vision is for a better world, where the full potential of hemp can be readily accessed by all forms of life.

The UK has been slow to take up the great opportunity that hemp provides our species, we are stunted without this plant being freely accessible and useable. As a social enterprise and not-for-profit, Hempen’s profit goes towards increasing hemp growing in the UK because we believe in the power of hemp.

We are a not for profit worker’s co-operative. To make a DONATION to Hempen, click HERE.

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UK CBD – Novel Foods in full force


UK CBD law is changing…

If you’ve been following our updates, something big has been afoot. The entire UK CBD industry has been waiting to find out how the new Novel Foods legislation will affect your favourite products.

This legislation came into effect on the 31st March 2021. We have been preparing for this change. We know it’s not only a confusing process, but a difficult one.

As of the 1st April, we are no longer allowed to sell our CBD Oils as ingestible products. Neither a food nor food supplements.

To explain the situation, here is a message from Zena, our Production Coordinator and Co-operative Member. She also happens to be a regulation compliance extraordinaire…

Novel Foods applies to new foods. This is usually applied to processed foods or foods that have not been eaten by humans in the UK or European area before 1997.

From the 1st April, all of our CBD products are going to be sold as cosmetics. This is because the EU and UK Food Standards Agency have listed CBD Oil as a Novel Food.

This means that as a cosmetic rather than a food, we can only instruct and advertise our CBD products as cosmetics.

Things will be a bit different on our website. The CBD Oils will be cosmetics, rather than food supplements.

Despite all these challenges, our Organic CBD Oils are still high quality, organic and ethically produced hemp extracts you know and love!

We are part of a wider movement. We want to free up the use of hemp as a key UK agricultural crop. And we will continue to believe in hemp as a solution to many of today’s challenges.

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call or drop us an email on

For the most up-to-date news, follow our social channels on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up to our newsletter to keep updated!

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David and Goliath: What’s going on with CBD?!

Hempen Hemp Field

You’ve probably read some of our posts over the past year relating to the pending Novel Foods legislation. UK CBD is about to change.

What’s going on with UK CBD?

This will come into effect from March 31st, 2021. The entire UK CBD industry has been waiting with bated breath to find out what the ruling will be. There will be huge repercussions on the UK CBD and hemp market, for both producers and consumers.

It’s all pretty confusing, so we wanted to wait until things were clearer before we updated you all.

Here’s a breakdown of the current situation:

Novel Foods

Any food that hasn’t been consumed by humans before 1997 is classed as a ‘novel food’. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants these products to go through stringent testing before releasing them for consumption. 

“But surely hemp has been around for thousands of years?!”

Yes – check out this article documenting the many historical uses of hemp. There was even a CBD soup made for the Pope as far back as the 14th Century!

That’s why CBD with strengths up to 5% (around the same levels as the natural plant extract) shouldn’t even be classed as novel. But according to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), it is. 

There hasn’t been such clear documentation of higher strengths of CBD consumption pre-1997. So that part makes slightly more sense… But only slightly.

From 31st March 2021, any CBD supply for consumption has to be linked to a validated dossier with the FSA.

All our products are linked to submitted dossiers. Like the rest of the industry, we are waiting until the end of March to hear whether they have been accepted. No application is certain to be accepted, so the outcome is daunting for CBD companies across the industry. 


Stricter THC Level

UK law currently permits 1mg THC per product – the limit for any controlled substance. The UK has tolerated open labelling of products as less than 0.2% THC (as defined by the level allowed for varieties of industrial hemp). 

In January 2021, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing – Kit Malthouse – proposed changing the THC levels to a proportion of the total volume rather than a fixed amount. As a concept, this makes sense because it means the limit of permitted THC would change depending on the size of the product. 

However, what makes far less sense is that the proposal was to:

EITHER increase the levels to 0.01%

… So for a 10ml product, 1mg would still be the limit but for a 300ml product it would be 30mg

OR decrease them to 0.0001%.

… This is basically impossible when working with natural plant extract.

What does that mean?

It means that with a 0.0001% limit, the only CBD permitted will be – astoundingly – synthetic isolate.

Synthetic CBD would not be derived from the hemp plant but developed in a laboratory. Synthesising different chemicals is the only way to guarantee absolutely no traces of THC are present.

Considering the current permitted levels of THC are trace at most, this ‘bombshell to the industry’ is unnecessarily strict, especially when the World Health Organisation’s position is that products with up to 0.2% THC pose no threat to human health… Never mind that synthetic isolate will have none of the health benefits of the whole plant extract, nor any of the environmental and agricultural benefits whilst producing it.

In February 2021, The Home Office stated that all businesses who import bulk CBD isolates or distillates must now secure a Schedule One Controlled-Drug Licence.

CBD has no negative side effects and can ease an astounding range of ailments. The plant itself does more good than any other crop that can be grown in this climate. 

Industrial hemp has very low levels (less than 0.2%) of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. No matter how much industrial hemp you consume, you won’t get high.

So… Why are the rules changing?

UK CBD legislation is aligning to support the big players and crush the independents.

Under these new regulations, CBD will only be sourced from a small number of big suppliers. It will be limited to narrow spectrum (isolated CBD rather than full spectrum plant extract). 

We have seen countless examples of CBD helping people to live their lives freely in ways that were previously inconceivable.

Our hopes for the future of the UK hemp and CBD industry are not so far-fetched. We long for a regulated industry that places the wellbeing of its customers first, where farmers and UK businesses are consulted and welcomed in the debate. This industry could support farmers in doing what they do best, and genuinely promote the health and care so often claimed on the box.


Hemp is a historic food. It should be free to be consumed to at least the natural levels of CBD (up to 5%) and THC (0.2% – 1%).

The novel foods process wilfully ignores this data. It is creating enormously expensive and unjustified barriers to a traditional healthy food. 

The proposed THC limits for CBD products are not evidence based and are highly destructive for the ethical development of the industrial hemp market.

These regulations are a betrayal of our heritage. They are a continuation of the coordinated demonisation and prohibition of the cannabis plant over the course of the last century. 

We demand that Industrial Hemp is removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act so that the whole plant can be freely grown and consumed. We also demand that the Novel Foods process is reassessed so that at the very minimum, whole plant extracts with natural cannabinoid thresholds can be sold and distributed on the open market.  

The Seed Our Future campaign have drafted a letter for concerned CBD users requesting answers regarding the government’s stance. We have also published our version of this letter below.

Please send it to your local MP, and feel free to adapt it as you wish.

We have complied with regulations so we could keep bringing you all the healthy alternative that we know is necessary for so many people. This legislation is a bare-faced attempt to stop us. We cannot let this happen.

Hempen Supporters letter

Hempen Letter

Seed Our Future Website

Seed Our Future Letter

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Another year, another hemp licence

Hemp Licencing

As many of you may remember, in July 2019 the licence here at Path Hill Farm to grow hemp was revoked by the Home Office. This led to the destruction of a crop worth £200k. We were faced with a decision: to grow or not to grow?

Since then, we have continued partnering with farmers across the UK. We did this to support hemp growers nationwide and strengthen UK grown hemp production. In this position, we have had to consider what would be the most effective solution to the issues we were facing.

As of last week, we have officially submitted our new application to grow hemp in our fields! It’s a very exciting moment in Hempen’s journey. Though we are not celebrating just yet…

Why apply now?

Applications for licences are accepted from the beginning of January, until the end of February. An answer, does not have to be returned by the Home Office until the end of April. This poses a significant problem to farmers planning their rotations for the year. 

In times of crisis, it is understandable to feel fear, judgement and anger. When faced with the most serious challenge to our business since we began, we are choosing to focus on solutions. We are worked to fulfil our mission to provide hemp solutions for the health of people, community and planet with determination!

Although our capacity to bring hemp products to our customers was threatened by the licence reversal, we believe in the power of community and collaboration to build resilience. Our belief may have been tested, but the results were clear. We’re so much better when we work together.

What’s been happening since the licence was revoked?

We connected with farmers across the UK who had an interest in growing hemp, supported them with their own licence applications and shared our industry knowledge and farming expertise to help them produce the best environmental impact and yields possible for their land and resources.

Our commitment to buy hemp seed and stalk harvests from them provided the stability of a return on investment, and we intend to develop new and existing partnerships regardless of the outcome of our current application.

More hemp was grown in the UK in the past year because we supported other farmers to grow it. That means more carbon was removed from the atmosphere, more nutrients returned to the soil and more ecological alternatives to outdated products were available for the health of our consumers. 

How have the processes at Hempen been affected?

To comply with UK law, we have been importing CBD from Europe. This is despite the significant financial and environmental costs involved. When compared to harvesting from the UK, if that were possible. 

We have diversified our seed and fibre product range, and continue to do so. We are here to provide our incredible support network of volunteers and customers continued access to UK-grown organic hemp products. And continue to do this at a fair price.

With more seed and fibre products, we are less reliant on CBD. But to do this requires further investment. We are seeking additional finance to bring more of our processing in-house. This will to reduce our carbon footprint and create a production loop that is as local as possible.

Many hurdles remain for the UK and European hemp industry. All around the world, legislators are waking up to the potential of this booming industry. Hemp offers solutions to so many problems including the ecological crisis, job scarcity, food sovereignty and soil health. 

We are hopeful that our application to grow this most wonderful of plants will be accepted in time for us to plant this year’s crop. Our community continues to grow with more producers and industry partners each year. Show us your support for us by telling us why you think we deserve to be able to grow hemp here on the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade…

When life gives us hemp, we make Hempen!