French group fears Europe’s hemp leader could fall behind

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The French Hemp Syndicate (Syndicat Professionnel du Chanvre – SPC) has issued a broad manifesto supporting the nation’s industrial hemp sector, warning the country could lose its position as an industry leader barring intense development.

“As a leader in this sector for decades, France could well be relegated to spectator status in just a few years,” the group said in the manifesto.

“All around us, other countries are advancing quickly and rehabilitating the cultivation of hemp without waiting. In the absence of a rapid reaction, France will lose its historic lead in a more than promising sector,” the manifesto continues.

Europe’s biggest grower

France is by far Europe’s biggest hemp grower, with hemp fields totaling about 18,000 hectares in 2018; Europe overall recorded 50,000 hectares in 2018 — the most recent figures. The country’s hemp economy is based on the production of certified planting seeds, seed production for food, and fiber used in paper and the building industry. But the French government prohibits the use of hemp flowers, meaning the CBD sector is virtually non-existent.

SPC said current barriers prevent hundreds of local players from developing innovative ecological solutions and the economic benefits hemp represents. The group called for “establishment of a clear legal and economic framework, allowing secure access for consumers and patients, and economic development for entrepreneurs, farmers and territories.”

Created in June 2018, the SPC comprises about 60 producers, processors, distributors and other stakeholders from the hemp wellness and therapeutic cannabis sectors. The Syndicate interfaces with government agencies and French parliamentarians, advocating for changes to advance the industry.

For ecology and economy

SPC said hemp can play a major role amidst the confluence of the current ecological and economic crises faced by France, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among key recommendations, SPC said France should develop its hemp sector by freeing up the flower, further development of seed as a natural food, and by expanding hemp fiber’s use in the construction industry, in bioplastics, textiles, and as an alternative energy source.

“Hemp must have its place in the recovery plan,” the manifesto declares. “France must make the most of its many assets and seize the opportunity to make hemp the plant of the future, capable of meeting contemporary challenges.”

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