Why the UK government might not follow task force advice on homegrown hemp

Future CBD market growth in the UK could be boosted by a recent report from a newly formed task force on post-Brexit regulatory change. But how likely is it that the recommendations, affecting both UK hemp companies and CBD consumers in the UK, will be implemented?

As a counter-point to the previous piece on the UK regulatory proposal report from the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, CBD-Intel is considering the negative: Why might the government not take up the recommendations proposed in the report by MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers and George Freeman and a small number of civil servants?

Or, more to the point, why would it matter to the industry either way?

In essence, a homegrown UK hemp market is just not that important at this point in time. Continued availability of high-quality, low-cost isolate and other extract ingredients renders a home-grown UK hemp extraction industry relatively pointless from a business perspective.

It would take some time past a rule change for farmers to adopt the new crop, find the ideal varieties, learn the proper techniques and invest in the necessary equipment to actually produce cannabinoid hemp extracts in notable quantities.

And even then there is no guarantee that the product produced would be competitive on price or as high in quality as currently available imports (which presumably will also continue to increase in quality and/or drop in price as more farmers garner more experience with what remains for many a relatively new farming process).

In fact there is good reason to believe UK farmers will not be able to match that quality and high proportion of output per acre without further regulatory action as farmers in areas like some US states, or Switzerland, where the use of up to 1% THC varieties is permitted.

So this means that – unless some form of tariff is introduced, most likely due to wider trade negotiations rather than it specifically being targeted – there is little reason to use UK-grown hemp extracts under a future regime beyond being able to say that the extracts come from UK-produced hemp. And as anyone who has worked with sausages will be able to tell you, there are plenty of ways to imply something is UK-produced without it necessarily having been entirely UK-produced.

So it may not even matter what the Johnson-led Conservative government decides to do with the task force recommendations. The introduction of rules permitting whole plant extraction may lead to almost no ripple on the UK cannabinoid extract market.


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