The United Kingdom's government administration is in a state of flux as regards the licensing of regulated drugs. This state of instability is a result of the 1971 and 2001 Misuse of Drugs Act and other subordinate legislation.
As things stand, the medical and therapeutic gospel of specific regulated drugs, cannabis specifically, has brought about media attention. Now, the cannabis industry seems to be developing both in the UK and globally with CBD products advertised as wellness products. But when it comes to how such products are perceived by the UK government, the sales of such products would be illegal.
Another round of bad news on this issue would be that the cultivation of cannabis in the UK is also considered illegal except if you're licensed to do so. Under the 1979 Misuse of Drugs Act, the cultivation of any cannabis strain regardless of the THC percentage it contains is illegal in the UK.
In simple terms, this means that all cannabis strains fall under the "illegal weed" umbrella in the UK, and cannabis cultivation is not allowed. So, as an average person who wants to cultivate cannabis in your little garden, irrespective of the strain, or its THC levels, you will be illegally doing so in the United Kingdom.
The law doesn't care if you intend to use it for personal use or you're cultivating it for sale. If caught cultivating cannabis, one could face a jail time of 14 years and or pay a fine. However, even though cannabis cultivation is illegal and difficult for businesses in the UK, CBD can be easily imported into the country.
Growing Industrial Cannabis as a Business
Presently, UK companies can submit a license application to the British Home Office to cultivate cannabis. The license is known as the Controlled Drug Domestic License and it allows businesses to cultivate cannabis with low THC concentration (industrial hemp) to harvest its seeds and fiber.
The license does not allow the cultivation and harvest of cannabis flowers with high THC concentration and does not allow the extraction of CBD. In layman's terms, the license doesn't permit CBD production.
No doubt this law seems quite bizarre to a lot of people. Applying for a cannabis growing license is not a straightforward process like in other countries. Some certain requirements and provisions must be satisfied before one can even consider applying. Even at that, it is not guaranteed you get the license.
Cannabis Cultivation License in the UK
Certain provisions need to be fulfilled before one can apply for a cannabis growing license in the Uk and as mentioned earlier, it is not guaranteed that one gets it. When applying for a license to grow cannabis plants either outdoors or indoors, businesses must submit several documents, pay the application other fees, and then hope, to get awarded the license. After some years, one would then have to reapply after the expiration of that license.
How to Get a Cannabis Cultivation License in the UK
If you're determined to get a cannabis cultivation license in the UK, here is a stepwise procedure on how to go about it according to the regulations set by the UK government.
You'd first have to go through a Disclosure and Barring Service check to ascertain that your criminal records are clean. Next, you pay a £580 application fee if you're a new applicant or £326 for renewal. If you're required to have a compliance visit, you'd have to pay a total fee of £1,371.
Once that is done, what follows is the submission of your application form online. Apart from this, additional documents will also be asked to be submitted alongside your application form. These include;
Contact details and personal information
Farm details kike size and location
Intended type of seed to plant
Confirmation that the specific seed is approved by the government.
Once all documents are submitted, you would have to wait between 4 to 6 weeks to get denied or approved.
Things to Consider About Cultivation License
Apart from how difficult it is to apply for a growing license, there are several other requirements one must fulfill to ensure your license is valid when approved. These requirements include;
Plants must be cultivated far from public spaces, schools, and vehicular access.
Upon changing farm location in the future, it's required that you let the home office know in advance
The license has three years of validity
It's required that you inform local authorities of your intention to cultivate cannabis on your land after the application must have been approved
Each cultivation location must be separately approved and licensed.
For rented lands, the license applies to you and not the land owner.
Farmers with multi-year licenses are required to tender an Annual Licence Review Statement at the beginning of the year. This evaluation process also requires that you submit records of the growing season that feature sowing details, area of cultivation, and yield.
A complex regulatory landscape
The opaque and complex licensing regulation has made it hard for new entrants to venture into the UK cannabis market. These vast regulatory barriers now serve as an entry guard to the developing medical cannabis industry in the UK.
As a new entrant looking to cultivate cannabis in the UK, you'd have to secure a smooth supply chain for your product, obtain various facilities, apply for a license, comply with all regulations, secure and design an ideal site, and check for cost-effective energy sources and so on. This is quite a lot of farmers. Considering all these and especially the fact that getting the license is not guaranteed, many are discouraged from venturing into the UK cannabis market.
So far, only 20 active licenses have been issued to cannabis companies for cannabis cultivation between October 2018 and 2019. However, while these regulations and the tedious licensing process slow down the development of the UK cannabis market, more is still expected to come. This is because the wave of cannabis reform seems to be unstoppable and would soon hit the UK with all force. So, business opportunities will abound for UK operators shortly.