Farmers struggling to break into the lucrative medical cannabis and hemp markets because of legal obstacles will be offered pointers by the experts.
East Anglia-based farm innovation body Agri-TechE is set to host a webinar to examine the opportunities for farmers willing to work in a legal landscape described as “confusing, contradictory and illogical” to grow medical cannabis.
The “wonder-crop” – which grows well in the UK – is grown commercially across nearly 50,000ha in the European Union.
George McBride, chief executive of legal cannabis consultants Hanway Associates, will be explaining to farmers how the obstacles to growing the cannabis sativa plant can be overcome when he speaks at the event on May 14.
“Growing cannabis commercially in the UK is currently difficult, but far from impossible,” he said.
“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.”
A single cannabis sativa plant contains a number of “assets” which can be put to good use. Its fibres provide extremely resilient materials, while its seeds and stem are nutritious. The leaves contain a medically important extract known as CBD, or cannabidiol.
Meanwhile, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) – a much less abundant extract which has psychoactive properties – is a class B controlled drug in the UK.
Hemp is the term for a cannabis crop grown for its fibres, either in materials or for consumption, and where extracts are generally present only at very low levels.
However, the legal landscape was “confusing, contradictory and illogical”, admitted Mr McBride.
Hanway is supporting the development of medical cannabis facilities in the UK with the launch of a new initiative, Crop17, in association with Savills.
Agri-TechE director Dr Belinda Clarke said there was considerable interest among its membership in the versatile crop, but uncertainty over legal issues and the route to market.
Source: East Anglian