A recent article published in La Voz de Almería highlighted the risks faced by hemp farmers in Spain who may misunderstand legal parameters. The article with the appropriate title “Why the new enthusiasm for industrial hemp could bring you to jail” summarizes the most important requirements for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp clearly.
First, the seeds used must be approved for marketing in the European Union (EU). This means that they have to be included in the common EU catalog of varieties of agricultural plant species.
Second, the THC content of the plants must not exceed 0.2%.
Third, hemp growing is limited to fiber and seeds. This is especially confusing for growers, some of whom mistakenly believe that all parts of the plant are fair game as long as they do not exceed the 0.2% THC threshold. However, as the Almería Civil Guard stated: “As soon as you touch the bud, regardless of the THC content, you will be committing a crime against public health.”
According to the article, law enforcement raids on industrial hemp plants in Almería have put at least one producer in jail. Statements by the local prosecutor suggest that the real driver of the police action is the “remarkable increase in cannabis sativa plantations in greenhouses under the guise of an alleged industrial plant”. This clandestine activity has in turn led to violent – sometimes fatal – robberies.
These risks affect not only producers but others in the industry as well. In accordance with the existing legal framework, the extraction of hemp CBD is only permitted from seeds. In addition, only hemp seeds and their derivatives are permitted in food.
Especially in areas with strong agricultural traditions like Almería, the hemp craze could offer seductive prospects for growers and others. However, these opportunities come with serious risks for those who misunderstand or ignore the law.