Webinar to look at cannabis opportunities for UK farmers

The crop grows well in the UK but farmers are struggling to break into the market
The crop grows well in the UK but farmers are struggling to break into the market

An upcoming webinar will look at the opportunities available for British farmers looking to grow and export the Cannabis sativa crop.

Cannabis and hemp are two products of the wonder-crop, grown commercially across nearly 50,000 hectares in the European Union.

The crop grows particularly well in the UK, but farmers are struggling to break into the market, for legislative reasons amongst others.

“Growing cannabis commercially in the UK is currently difficult, but far from impossible,” explained George McBride, CEO of Hanway Associates, who will be discussing the topic in an upcoming webinar hosted by Agri-TechE.

For a single plant, Cannabis sativa offers many assets: its fibres provide extremely resilient materials, its seeds and stem are nutritious and its leaves contain a medically important extract, called CBD, or cannabidiol.

Mr McMbride said that since the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018, excitement has grown for this nascent sector.

"Now is the perfect time to take a look at how UK farmers can take advantage and make the most out of the new opportunity that growing hemp and cannabis offer."

Hanway Associates is supporting the development of medical cannabis facilities in the UK with its recently launched initiative – Crop17 – in association with Savills.

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-TechE, said there is considerable interest within its membership in this versatile crop but there is uncertainty over legal issues and the route to market.

One of the issues is that Cannabis sativa is known by many names, depending upon which parts of the plant are taken, and how they are used.

The CBD extract is becoming well established as a treatment for seizures, chronic pain and various other ills, and is also a common ingredient in wellness and lifestyle products.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the name of a much less abundant extract that has psychoactive properties and is a class-B controlled drug in the UK.

Finally, hemp is the term for a cannabis crop grown for its fibres, for material usage or consumption, where extracts are generally present only at very low levels.

The conflation of hemp, CBD and THC is a misunderstanding that filters through the general public and has ended up being captured in UK and EU law.

The effect is a legal landscape that is “confusing, contradictory and illogical,” which harms market stability, consumer confidence, and simply makes it harder to produce and process the crop.

Navigating this landscape, and exchanging thoughts on hemp and cannabis in general, is the focus of Agri-TechE's upcoming webinar on 14 May.

This event is titled ‘From Farmer to Pharma – A Teaser of Things to Come'. Attendance is free of charge.