Industrial hemp licensing
Information for prospective growers of low THC cannabis (industrial hemp), for the production of seed and fibre only.
Controlled drugs are drugs named in misuse of drugs legislation. Cannabis is a Class B controlled drug listed in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and in the Misuse of Drugs Designation Order 2015.
If your company or organisation want to cultivate industrial hemp you need to apply for a controlled drugs domestic licence.
If you are a new or existing grower read our hemp factsheet for information on the licensing process for industrial hemp.
Licences for industrial hemp are generally valid for 3 growing seasons. The licence only allows for the industrial use of the seed and fibre, which are non-controlled parts of the hemp plant. The licence does not allow for the use of the flowers or leaves (‘green’ or controlled materials).
Before you apply
To apply, you first need to register as a customer on the controlled drugs licensing system. If your application is successful, you will receive a username and password. You do not need to register again each time you apply.
If you have forgotten your login details or need your password reset, email [email protected]
You must make sure that each person named on the application form holds a valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The DBS check must be done by Security Watchdog. You can contact them on 01420 558 752 to apply for one. If you have a DBS check by another company, we cannot accept your certificate.
If you, or anyone named on the application, already has a DBS check in place for drug licensing purpose dated 3 years or older from Security Watchdog you will need to apply for a new DBS check.
If you have subscribed to the DBS update service, you should include this information in your licence application.
2022 growing season – important dates for prospective applicants
Monday 3 January 2022
Applications for licences to cultivate in the 2022 season can be made from this date. Applications received before this date will be rejected as premature.
Monday 28 February 2022
Last date for new prospective growers of ‘industrial hemp’ for seed and/or fibre only to apply to register as a user of our drug licensing portal. If approved, you will be able to apply for a license.
Friday 1 April 2022
Last date for first-time or repeat growers of ‘industrial hemp’ for seed and/or fibre only to submit licence applications. This is so that we can try to reach an initial decision on applications by Friday 29 April 2022. You must have completed enhanced DBS checks for each person named on the licence application before submission. The application must be limited to outdoor cultivation a purpose wholly covered by the hemp policy as set out in our grower factsheet.
If you apply after the cut-off dates
If you apply to register or apply for a licence after these cut-off dates, we cannot guarantee processing times and we may have to reject your application or registration request.
If you apply to register on or after Sunday 1 May 2022, it is likely that we will reject your request without substantive consideration. This is because it would not be practical to consider an application and issue a licence for outdoor cultivation before you need to start sowing, and cultivation cannot take place without a licence.
If you apply before the ‘application window’ opens
If you apply to register, or (if you are already registered) apply for a licence before the ‘application window opens’ date above we are likely to reject your request as premature. We will not hold it open and you will need to re-apply.
Apply for an industrial hemp licence
Our fees cover the costs of processing an application and are charged per licensing decision so different fee levels may apply. The fee levels are set out in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2010. Read the full list of fees for controlled drugs licences.
After you apply
If your controlled drugs licence is approved, you will receive an email with instructions for payment. We will not issue your licence until the fee is paid.
Once you have paid, the licence will be sent electronically via email.
If you cancel your application
We consider how much to charge for cancellations case by case.
You may be charged any costs already owed, relating to administration, travel or accommodation arrangements, if:
- you cancel a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
- you request to change the time or date of a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
- you cancel your application after you receive an outcome from us
We may also ask for our administrative costs to be paid within 10 working days. We can email you extra information about these costs.
Annual hemp grower statement
As a licensed industrial hemp grower, you must submit an annual hemp grower statement by 1 May each year.
Thefts and losses
You can report any theft or unaccounted losses of controlled drugs by email to [email protected] using the thefts and losses form.
Licence no longer needed
If your company no longer needs a controlled drugs licence you will need to submit a controlled drugs licence return premises closure statement. Even if you continue to trade but no longer handle controlled drugs you will need to submit a statement.
You can read details of how we handle your personal information.
or call 0300 105 4848
This address deals with domestic (UK) controlled substance licenses including precursor chemicals, applications, renewals, compliance visits, thefts and losses, surrender or returning licence, or general enquiries about domestic licensing.
- 25 October 2021
New wording about how licence will be sent out after payment.
Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2022 growing season.
Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2021 growing season.
Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2020 growing season.
Corrected text to say an industrial hemp licence is generally valid for 3 growing seasons.
The Legal Status of Cannabis in the UK
The world is constantly changing when it comes to marijuana. One day we hear it’s forbidden only to find that months later the legalization of cannabis is in process, not that we’re complaining though.
However, the UK seems to be a little old schooled when it comes to lawmaking, making new measures usually takes quite a long time. And yeah, we can understand how taking time for making new measures can be a good way of making things, sometimes, with certain subjects when the profits look highly promising, it could be a good idea to speed things up.
What’s the current status of marijuana in the UK?
Sadly, not much has changed in the past decade concerning cannabis in the UK, meaning that it is still completely forbidden to use the substance in the country for recreational use.
However, when it comes to medical use, since 2018, strict regulations have made way for patients to use it.
UK Playing a Big Role in Cannabis Production
It’s still controversial however, that the UK is fully aware of the potentials this business brings, the country being one of the main legal cannabis suppliers in the whole world. What is this marijuana produced for? Well, specifically for lab testing and industrial products derived from hemp. This means that none of this is destined to either recreational or medical use, either in the UK or outside the country.
Legal Cannabis Products in The UK
Nevertheless, cannabis not being legal in the UK, there are still many different cannabis-derived products available on the market. Of course, these are ones that contain none of the psychoactive elements present in the plant, this being specially THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the one famously known for giving the high effect. These legal products include edibles, such as candies and gummies, or even buds that contain less than 0,2% of THC.
But, when it comes to CBD oil, it’s still not possible to get it on the NHS.
Can You Grow Marijuana in The UK?
Well, no, it just makes sense that if marijuana is not yet legal in the UK, of course it won’t yet be possible to grow it legally at home. Paradoxically though, the market of marijuana seeds is indeed active in the UK territory.
The regulations concerning cannabis seeds state, firstly, anyone is allowed to sell or trade marijuana seeds, whether it is over the counter, at a store, or online, and have it delivered to a specific address. Secondly, there is an established limit of the amount of seeds one can possess, and exceeding such amount could lead to legal issues in the future. At the same time, selling or cultivating seeds for commercial use is not allowed, and serious consequences, including prison could be applied.
So, if you happen to come across cannabis grow shops where cannabis seeds are commercialized, they are either licensed to do so, or the packages of the products include a clear statement claiming that the products are destined only as collectible products and not destined to cultivation. Such is the case for famous genetics such as zkittlez seeds , gorilla cookies or purple lemonade, they can be sold in the UK but not to be grown.
It’s all a matter of time however, so perhaps purchasing seeds now while the market hasn’t yet boomed could be a great idea, the prices are likely cheaper than they will be once cannabis goes fully legal in the country, and you could be the holder of pure gold in the future, with unique strains. Make sure you know how to properly store cannabis seeds however, to avoid any misfortunes.