Updated rule on hemp planting seeds in Europe called ‘major change’

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A coming rule change in Europe would allow the marketing of hemp planting seed varieties that exceed the allowable THC level although some farmers who plant those varieties would not be eligible for European Union farm subsidies, according to a summary of EU regulatory updates by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).

Importantly, the subsidies would be withheld only from farmers in those Member States where the over-the-limit THC is reported, according to an EIHA explanatory note on the rule.

‘Major change’

“This is in our view a major change that will allow the registered varieties (in the EU Catalogue of approved plant varieties) exceeding the THC limits to be marketed and used,” EIHA said of the change in an email accompanying the summary of rules updates.

“A Member State will have the obligation to communicate to the Commission the name of the variety exceeding the THC limits for the second year in a row,” EIHA said, however “the prohibition of the marketing of that variety is no more foreseen.”

EIHA also said that under the updated rule, farmers must be informed about any varieties in question prior to the deadline for submitting applications for direct EU subsidies.

The rule won’t apply until 2023, when the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy goes into effect, EIHA noted. That is also when the European THC limit for hemp on the field will rise from 0.2% to 0.3%.

Legally binding

The change, in a Delegated Regulation already adopted, must still be published as an Implementing Regulation. Such non-legislative EU measures, which are usually adopted by the European Commission and are legally binding, are a way to amend or supplement EU rules and directives outside formal legislative process.

EIHA said the change could also have an impact on the registration of new hemp varieties in the EU Catalogue. “The EU seed legislation does not lay down any requirements for the THC content of hemp and the maintenance of the variety on the Catalogue has been until now closely linked to the performance of the controls on the field,” EIHA said.

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