Crime, Policing and Fire Group Tel: 020 7035 4848
2 Marsham Street
Fax: 020 7035 4745
Mr Paul Powlesland
17 October 2018
Dear Mr Powlesland Freedom of Information request reference: 50187
Thank you for your e-mail
of 12 September 2018, in which you ask;
1. How many acres/hectares of Low THC cannabis (Hemp) were grown in the UK
under Home Office licence in the years 2017 and 2018
2. How many Low THC cannabis (hemp) growing licences were awarded by the Home
Office in the years 2017 and 2018
3. What percentage of the Low THC cannabis (hemp) grown under licence is used for:
Your request is being handled as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. I am sorry for the delay in responding to your request.
Firstly, I would like to clarify that cultivation of all varieties of the genus Cannabis
lawfully occur in the UK under licence issued in accordance with Regulations 5 and 12 of
the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (MDR) 2001 and licences are issued under these
provisions.. The genus Cannabis
contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the
psychoactive component within the plant which is subject to control, in addition to the
‘parts’ of the plant named by the Act.
Cultivation of cannabis can only take place under Home Office licence issued in
accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; this licensing requirement applies
irrespective of the THC content of the plant.
A licence is required to cover both cultivation and possession. The genus Cannabis
controlled drug in Class B of The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA and Schedule 1 of the
Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001). Under these Regulations, a licence may be issued
The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2001 restricts the licit use of cannabis to
possession for research (High THC) or “other special purposes”. Low THC cannabis grown
for the commercial production of industrial hemp fibre or the pressing of seed for oil is an
“other special purpose” within the meaning of Section 7(4)(a) of the MDA.
Licenses for the cultivation of low THC Cannabis (industrial hemp) are granted to enable
the use of non-controlled parts of the plant (i.e. seeds and fibre/ stalk only). There needs to
be a defined commercial end use and the Home Office only licences plants grown from
approved seed types with a THC content not exceeding 0.2%. The licenses are generally
issued for a validity period of three growing seasons.
I am able to disclose some of the information that you requested, as follows, and will
respond to your questions in turn.
In respects to question 1, we hold the information which you have requested in a
disaggregated format from which we would have to manually extract the information for
each case, before then considering whether any exemptions to disclosure existed.
Therefore we have concluded that this element of your request is exempt from disclosure
under Section 12 of the FOIA.
Under Section 12 of the FOIA, the Home Office is not obliged to comply with an
information request where to do so would exceed the cost limit. After careful consideration
we have estimated that the cost of meeting your request would exceed the cost limit of
£600 specified in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and
Fees) Regulations 2004. The £600 limit is based on work being carried out at a rate of £25
per hour, which equates to 24 hours of work per request. The cost of locating, retrieving
and extracting information can be included in the costs for these purposes. The costs do
not include considering whether any information is exempt from disclosure, overheads
such as heating or lighting, or items such as photocopying or postage.
Turning to question 2, I am able to disclose the number of Low THC (industrial hemp)
licences granted in 2017 and 2018 to date is as follows;
Low THC Cannabis
In regards to question 3 a and b, the Home Office does not hold information on the
percentage of the Low THC cannabis (hemp) grown under licence that is used for fibre
Finally, with regards to question 3 c, as outlined above, the Home Office policy does not
allow the use of the controlled parts (leaves and flowers), of the cannabis plant and
therefore a Home Office licensed ‘hemp’ grower could not lawfully use the ‘green’ material
(i.e. leaves and flowers).
If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review
of our handling of your request by submitting a complaint within two months to email@example.com,
quoting reference 50187
. If you ask for an internal
review, it would be helpful if you could say why you are dissatisfied with the response.
As part of any internal review the Department's handling of your information request would
be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. If you
were to remain dissatisfied after an internal review, you would have a right of complaint to
the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the FOIA.
Yours sincerely Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit