The newly formed British Hemp Association (BHA) is hoping to advance the fledgling hemp industry in the UK by working with stakeholders to knock down all barriers to industry growth. The BHA has set an inaugural public meeting Nov. 15 in London.
“With political changes happening so fast with cannabis, I saw that there was a need for a UK association that nurtured, connected and protected UK hemp,” Rebekah Shaman, the group’s chairperson, said of the BHA initiative. The Association was formally created earlier this year following a meeting of stakeholders in 2017 that gathered funding and partners.
Lobbying effort needed
“With Brexit, we are no longer tied to EU regulations and law, which means the UK could become a major international player in the hemp market,” Shaman, told HempToday.
It will take strong lobbying to abolish the need for a license from the government to cultivate hemp – the biggest industry barrier, according to Shaman. Hemp can only be grown in the UK with a Home Office license, making it the jurisdiction of homeland security and not agriculture, she said. The BHA’s ultimate goal is to clear the way so that the whole hemp plant can be processed from flower to root, Shaman told HT.
Potential to thrive
“By removing all the political restrictions we have the potential to build a thriving industry while cleaning up our environmental mess,” said Shaman, who first got interested in industrial hemp for it’s potential as an environmental cleanup solution. She later formed a company, Hemp Global Solutions, focused on that application.
There’s also a need to “help build an independent industry before we are flooded with Chinese, Canadian and American products,” Shaman said.
Looking to expand participation
BHA’s initial networking event Nov. 15 in London is intended to sign up new members among farmers, processors, extractors, construction firms, and companies dealing in textiles, paper, CBD and food, Shaman said. Current members are Hempen Co-operative, Vitality Hemp, THTC, and other notable brands.
UK’s hemp history
Hemp has a long history in the UK and once played a key role in the British Empire’s expansion. For centuries the British Navy used hemp for sails, rope, nets and other purposes. “The UK grew rich from its hemp under the rule of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I,” Shaman notes. “It was illegal not to grow a quarter acre of your land with hemp for the monarchy, and you could even pay your taxes with it.”