Ireland is undergoing a hemp awakening with the number of cultivation applications soaring dramatically.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) received 77 licence applications by July 2019, compared to 24 for the whole of 2018 and just seven in 2016, reports the Irish Mirror. It says there are now almost 1,000 acres registered for cultivating crops of hemp and this is expected to rise to as much as 5,000 acres.
Strict Hemp Growing Rules
But, as in most European countries and its large neighbor the U.K, strict rules govern the cultivation of the plant. The HPRA stipulates that plants must contain less than 0.2% of THC, and cannot be cultivated in an area which is visible from the road.
The location of the crop has to be proven to Gardaí (the police) via land mapping, prior to the commencement of planting, and all farmers must be Garda vetted. The Irish Times reports cannabis expert Kaya O’Riordan of CB1 Botanicals saying an Irish hemp industry has the potential to create over 80,000 jobs.
Law Change Allows For Medical Cannabis
Irish industry publication Irish Farming has also picked up on the potential for the hemp in the country highlighting how it can reduce its carbon footprint. It says the ideal time for planting hemp in Ireland, renowned for its wet and temperate climate, is late April, early May when the last frosts have gone.
It reports the Irish Hemp Growers and Processors Association saying that the hemp sector will ‘only get bigger and better over the coming years, as the world seeks more renewable and environmentally friendly ways of producing products’.
Ireland A Staging Post To Europe
Hemp has thousands of applications applications including bioplastics, construction, high protein foods and beverages, food supplements, textiles, paper products, composites, biofuel and graphene substitutes.
Major environmental benefits from its use include; carbon sequestration, enhanced biodiversity, land reclamation and the production of environmentally responsible industrial and consumer goods. The emergence of the Irish hemp industry comes as North American firms are looking to the country as a staging post for the European mainland.
Province Brands, a Canadian cannabis drinks brewer, is planning to launch CBD beer in Ireland next year. The Cronos Group, with a market cap of $5 billion, has established Cronos Group Celtic Holdings in Dublin.