Recently, there has been renewed interest in the cultivation of hemp. In order to answer the doubts raised by farmers and technicians about the viability of hemp cultivation, the following are some considerations that may be useful when deciding to grow hemp.

Production of hemp “buds” for CBD production

In recent years there has been a considerable increase in demand for products made with CBD, a phytocannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant. This demand is causing a renewed interest in the cultivation of hemp, basically oriented to the production of cannabidiol (CBD), a destination prohibited by current legislation and that is intended to cover with an appearance of legality by referring to alleged “industrial” uses, such as fiber production, when in fact they are by-products with no real economic value.

To achieve this appearance of legality, the supposed use of certified seeds of hemp varieties with low tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC < 0.2%), registered in the Common Catalogue of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species of the European Union, is used.

If CBD can be a legal substance, where is the problem in growing hemp?

CBD has a double legal consideration, depending on the method used to obtain it:

(a) if CBD is obtained as an extract or tincture of hemp (that is, from buds of the hemp plant), regardless of its THC content, it is included in Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention, regulated in our domestic system by Law 17/197 of April 8. In other words, CBD obtained from buds, regardless of their THC content or whether they are male or female flowers, is considered a narcotic drug and its manufacture, export, import, distribution, trade, use, and possession must be limited to medical and scientific purposes.

b) if CBD is obtained from a synthesis process or from grain, it is not considered a narcotic substance.

The explanation for this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that the extraction method used to obtain THC from the hemp plant is identical to that used to obtain CBD.

Consequently, extractions of flowers from the hemp plant, regardless of their THC content, are subject to administrative control, even if the purpose of the extraction is to obtain CBD (non-controlled substance) and not THC (controlled substance).

The appearance of legality in offers to grow hemp with high CBD content

It is possible to identify a number of “red flags”, to detect possible abusive practices by buyers of supposedly industrial, medicinal, horticultural, biomass, or other “imaginative” hemp, which in reality hide the objective of CBD or THC production through the harvesting of the buds.

The first and most important warning sign is that the buyer of the hemp crop does NOT have written authorization from the AEMPS.

Another risk signal is that the farmer does NOT directly receive or handle the hemp seed to be cultivated. It is only legal to grow certified seeds of certain varieties of hemp. This seed is marketed in closed packages with an identifying label and is the only guarantee of the legal origin of the plant material.

If the farmer receives seedlings already germinated, he is taking the risk of cultivating plant material of unknown origin and therefore without any guarantee that it does not exceed the legal THC limit. The fact that the buyer provides a “legal” label separately from the delivery of the plant material only gives the appearance of legality in the supply of the plant material, but does not exempt the farmer from any responsibility.

A clearly abusive condition that may be included in the contract and that entails a disproportionate risk for the farmer is that the buyer (and supplier of the seeds) is NOT responsible in the event that the analysis carried out on the crop already implanted exceeds the maximum level legally established for THC content.

In many cases, the absence of control over the material actually implanted (not always related to the labels kept as vouchers) causes certain batches of seeds of unknown origin can exceed the legal limits of THC, a risk that the farmer assumes alone and that supposes in the best case, the loss of all the expected income and in the worst case, a criminally punishable conduct. If you want to buy quality hemp oil, they suggest that you head to Hemponix.

Gary J. Carrion