Hemp’s Current Status
The Resurgence Of Hemp
Over the last six or seven years, there has been a massive resurgence of interest in hemp and CBD. In 2021 over 700 active CBD companies were recorded in the UK alone. However, if we look at producers, the number drops drastically to about 20 in the UK as of 2021. The massive disparity between producers and companies is due to hemp’s classification as a drug. Because of such regulations, false ideas about this crop can fester.
Land & Trade
The UK’s economy could also be taking a hit. There is ample land for hemp growth, yet we import most CBD products. The UK tends to import more than it exports, which means it runs a trade deficit, which is not necessarily good or bad, but a trade surplus is preferred. The importation of construction materials greatly contributes to the UK’s trade deficit. Between 2020 and 2021 material importation also continued to increase. Hemp’s rise in construction and design may be a pivotal contributor to changing the flow of the UK’s raw material imports.
Stoking The Fire
Perceptions and regulations around hemp often play a prominent role in UK hemp discourse. Recently, there has been a resurgence in hemp activism around these issues. Well-publicised incidents, such as the forced crop burning by hemp producers, Hempen, seriously increased the drive of hemp activism. The Home Office revoked Hempen’s hemp licence after four years of operation. The reason given? The flowers of hemp hold CBD, a compound deemed to be a Class B drug in the UK. However, chemically synthesised CBD is not subject to the same regulations, which is why CBD products can be imported into the UK. From their experience, Hempen calculated lost revenue of about 200,000 Euro. Does post-Brexit also pose new challenges to this new industry? Some UK CBD businesses fear further delays around customs, shipping and declarations. However, this concern might not apply to those solely focused on hemp’s use as a raw material.
This year an activist organisation Liberate Hemp, launched a civil disobedience campaign. They aim to dissolve hemp licencing regulations once and for all. To achieve this goal, they encourage people to go ahead and grow hemp. Liberate hemp also seeks to educate the public on how to grow hemp in their gardens. The intention is to raise awareness and familiarity with hemp’s benign nature. The question is whether this movement brings greater hope to the successful reintroduction of hemp in the UK or hinders progress regarding attitudes and action?