U.K. Officials Approve New Rules for Hemp Cultivation Easing the Process for Prospective Farmers

U.K. Officials Approve New Rules for Hemp Cultivation Easing the Process for Prospective Farmers

The new guidelines, which go into effect for the 2025 cultivation season, will help current growers and encourage new investment in the industry.



America is not the only country committed to the success and expansion of the hemp plant. European nations, like Ukraine, Germany, and Sweden, are currently using hemp to develop eco-friendly construction projects for residential and commercial projects. Similarly, the United Kingdom has also begun dedicating resources, new laws, and agricultural incentives to expand its commitment to hemp and its myriad downstream uses and applications.


As first reported by High Times, government officials recently approved changes to the regulations governing industrial hemp licenses, making it easier for farmers to cultivate the versatile crop. The new rules are designed to provide support to regulated farmers who grow hemp and incentivize new investment in the market sector while also continuing to combat illegal uses of the plant as a drug.  


Industrial hemp, defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant containing less than 0.2% delta-9 THC, can be legally grown outdoors by licensed farmers in the U.K. for the production of fiber and seed. Under the current system, initial hemp cultivation licenses are issued for three growing seasons for a fee of £580 (about $727). The license renewal costs £326 (approximately $409) and is also good for three years.


The new regulations, slated to go into effect for the 2025 cultivation season, will extend the time for a hemp license to six years. In addition, the new rules will also:


  • Allow farmers to apply for a hemp growing license with a deferred start date of up to one year, enabling new growers more time to prepare for the new crop.
  • Make it legal for farmers to grow the plant anywhere on a licensed farm instead of limiting production to specific parcels of land.

The changes in the rules governing hemp production, developed in collaboration with seasoned hemp growers, come at a perfect time for hemp stakeholders. The number of licensed hemp farmers has increased substantially in the U.K. over the past decade, from a mere six in 2013 to 136 in 2023.


In a statement following the announcement of the rule changes, Farming Minister Mark Spencer stated the new guidelines will provide more opportunities for British farmers to succeed by giving them tangible and lucrative incentives to grow hemp.


“Industrial hemp has huge potential across the U.K. to unlock new revenue streams, expand our bio-economy without permanently removing land from food production, and bring wider environmental benefits. The licensing changes recognize industrial hemp as a field-grown agricultural crop and will enable more farmers to add hemp to their crop rotations,said Spencer.


"Industrial hemp has huge potential across the U.K. to unlock new revenue streams, expand our bio-economy without permanently removing land from food production, and bring wider environmental benefits. The licensing changes recognize industrial hemp as a field-grown agricultural crop and will enable more farmers to add hemp to their crop rotations."

- U.K. Farming Minister Mark Spencer


In the U.K., industrial hemp licenses do not allow farmers to utilize the flowers or leaves of the hemp plant. Those growers wishing to do so must obtain a cannabis cultivation license, which enables the indoor production of hemp for medical marijuana purposes. The dual licensing system allows farmers to cultivate cannabis and hemp for permitted uses while prohibiting illegal drug uses and protecting the public.


“This government will always seek to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on businesses so that they can flourish and grow. The changes outlined today will help farmers and manufacturers in the U.K. to fully realize the economic potential offered through the safe and legal cultivation of hemp,said Chris Philp, Minister for Crime and Policing.


"This government will always seek to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on businesses so that they can flourish and grow. The changes outlined today will help farmers and manufacturers in the U.K. to fully realize the economic potential offered through the safe and legal cultivation of hemp."

- Chris Philp, Minister for Crime and Policing


Several agricultural groups, including the National Farmers Union (NFU), welcomed the announcement of the new rules. In a statement, Jamie Burrows, chair of the NFU Combinable Crops Board, said, “It is one of the most sustainable crops farmers can grow, is a really good crop for capturing carbon from the atmosphere, has little to no input requirements, and also has the ability to diversify farming businesses and crop rotations, especially when other break crops like oilseed rape are becoming more difficult for British farmers to grow due to increased pest pressure.”


"It is one of the most sustainable crops farmers can grow, is a really good crop for capturing carbon from the atmosphere, has little to no input requirements, and also has the ability to diversify farming businesses and crop rotations, especially when other break crops like oilseed rape are becoming more difficult for British farmers to grow due to increased pest pressure."

- Jamie Burrows, Chair of the NFU Combinable Crops Board


Along with the rule changes, U.K. government officials have also requested that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs increase the permissible level of THC in industrial hemp from 0.2% to the 0.3% standard level currently used in the United States, Canada, China, and the European Union. 


With hemp becoming more accepted as an alternative to traditional construction materials, plastics, and other industrial purposes, global powers are beginning to realize the true value proposition available by encouraging the expansion and success of their respective young and burgeoning hemp-based industries.