Police have dropped charges against farmers in Gautavík, East Iceland who are cultivating industrial hemp, RÚV reports. The plant is derived from a strain of Cannabis sativa, which contains low concentrations of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. As such, the crops were reported to police by the Icelandic Medicines Agency as being in violation of current law. Following an investigation, however, police elected to drop charges and it’s likely that the government will soon remove legal barriers to hemp production, thereby allowing farmers to produce hemp for use in a range of products, such as fibreboard and eco-friendly concrete.
Farmers received a government grant
After being notified of the crops, authorities took samples and tested them for THC. No active THC was found in the plants; industrial hemp contains very little THC and cannot be consumed as a drug. However, current law bans the production of any plant containing any traces of the compound.
The farmers from Gautavík are not the first to have their industrial hemp crop questioned by the Medicines Agency. Another farmer was told that cultivating the crop was in violation of Icelandic narcotics law in 2013. However, in a letter police wrote detailing the conclusion of their current investigation, they affirmed that in this instance, the Gautavík farmers had received permission from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) to import 75 kilos of hemp seeds and that the shipment had gone through customs without comment. Police also point out that the farmers received a processing grant of ISK 700,000 ($4,846/€4,503) from the Ministry of Industries and Innovation to support their efforts. In light of the inconsistencies with which the law has been enforced, police concluded that it was unlikely that the hemp farmers would be convicted if the case went to court and elected to drop the charges.
Hemp fibreboard, hemp concrete, hemp salt, hemp tea
Food and agriculture consultant Oddný Anna Björnsdóttir is one of the farmers cultivating industrial hemp in Gautavík and says that she will continue to do so. “We’ve already produced fibreboard from the industrial hemp that we harvested last summer and used it to make giftware. Likewise fire-resistant hemp concrete, and we’ve also experimented with making hemp salt and hemp tea. So there are many possibilities for making valuable products out of this raw material.”
Based on the Icelandic Medicines Agency’s current stance on industrial hemp, it’s uncertain as to whether farmers will be allowed to import hemp seeds again this summer. However, the government recently announced that the Ministry of Industry and Innovation and the Ministry of Health intend to work together to make provisions for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp.