Over 370ha accounted for in 2019 hemp cultivation applications

A total of 373ha is accounted for in the issued licences for hemp cultivation in 2019, according to a representative from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

Emer O’Neill is the cosmetics product manager with the HPRA, and she addressed the Industrial Hemp Conference at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Dublin today, Thursday, June 20.

She outlined a number of notable statistics, including the fact that 60 licences have been issued so far this year – an increase from 24 in all of 2018, 16 in 2017, and just seven in 2016.

In total, 77 applications for hemp cultivation have been received by the HPRA in 2019. The delay in processing these is, as O’Neill explained, a result of errors made in contact details, particularly email addresses.

O’Neill also outlined the various stipulations and parameters involved in the application process.

These include a requirement that the plant not be grown adjacent to roads or public rights of way, with O’Neill stressing: “You can’t grow it on the side of the M4.”

She also made it clear that, if the cultivator is not the end retailer, then a contract must be in place between these two individuals or businesses, and a copy of this contract must be provided to the HPRA.

Hemp is derived from the cannabis plant, which contains the intoxicant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, hemp, once cultivated, contains very little THC.

Providing ordnance survey maps is also necessary, as is a Garda vetting process.

The purpose of today’s conference was to discuss the future possibilities of further hemp cultivation in Ireland, and how the process can be made easier.

The necessity of a licensing process was questioned by another of today’s speakers. Paul Benhaim is the CEO of hemp product manufacturer Elixinol Global, and was today’s keynote speaker.

He highlighted the example of Canada, where the licensing process was abandoned in favour of a simplified process that determines how much THC that is contained in a particular grower’s hemp.