AN OXFORDSHIRE hemp farm that is one of the largest in the UK says it has been forced to destroy £200,000 worth of crops after the Home Office blocked its licence.

Hempen, based in Goring Heath near Wallingford, started getting rid of the crops on Monday after a pending application was refused.

The company has been growing hemp, which is a strain of the cannabis plant that contains little or none of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), since 2015.

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Last year the Government published new guidance which said UK farmers could not harvest hemp flowers for the lucrative cannabis oil, or CBD, but could continue to grow seed and stalk.

Despite Hempen limiting its products to comply with the judgement, the not-for-profit company's licence was refused last week.

An update on the farm's website yesterday stated:"After legal advice and with heavy hearts, we’ve been forced to destroy our crop. This decision has far-reaching impacts on our co-operative and all its operations, on us as a community and on all of our customers and volunteers who help to keep our co-operative alive."

Oxford Mail:

It added: "Farming hemp is good for us and for the land we live on. This news only strengthens our resolve to reverse this decision, and raise awareness about the incredible and diverse ways that the hemp plant can help us, our community and our planet."

The application for a licence, which must be renewed every three years, was put in in December.

It was held under director James Norman, who is the tenancy holder.

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Hempen claim the Government's policy has previously been 'unclear' and that the business had always been transparent in the statements it submitted each year to the Home Office around how the plant was to be used.

The Home Office said: "We do not routinely comment on individual licences.”

Hempen is now campaigning for a change in policy so UK farmers can take advantage of the growing market for cannabis oil, which is used for pain relief, to treat anxiety and depression as well the side-effects of cancer treatment.

Oxford Mail:

It is legal to buy in the UK but not to grow the flowers used to make it.

Hempen co-founder Patrick Gillett said: “In challenging economic times for British farmers, hemp is offering green shoots of hope as a rare crop that can pay for itself without subsidy.

“Instead of capitalising on the booming CBD industry, the Home Office’s bureaucracy is leading British farmers to destroy their own crops and millions of pounds’ worth of CBD flowers are being left to rot in the fields.”

He added: “The government should move the responsibility of regulating farmers over to DEFRA and legislate to stop our CBD spending being sent abroad and be used to secure the future of British farming.”

The business is encouraging people to sign a petition by searching

'Change the Hemp License Hypocrisy'.