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Industrial hemp, the myth and the now

by Seraphim Kandylas

We are heading towards the fourth year of cannabis cultivation in our country. Since 2016 the JMD was signed, the Law 4139/2013 defined as a condition to start its cultivation and to date, we have a significant increase in the acres cultivated. From 24 acres in 2016 we reached about 1000 in 2018. From Evros to Crete with about 250 cultivation approvals and with the varieties Finola, Futura 75 and Fedora 17 leading the way. Respectively the various Zenit, Uso-31, CS, Kompolti, Carmagnola, Santhica 70, Tiborszallasi, KC Dora, Silvana, Fibrol, Felina 32 in a few acres, almost pilot.

However, the promising cultivation of cannabis does not have the expected response that we expected those who fought for the implementation in our country of the European regulation for linen and hemp Sativa-L with THC0.2<%.

This has to do with the reluctance of the departments of the Ministry of Rural Development involved to support its cultivation due to the fact that they are “cotton fanatics” and see cannabis as its competitor, but also prisoners of prejudice from the slander and demonization of the plant. They did everything in their power not only to brake it, but also to prevent it.

From the time when his political leadership (Yp. Stefanos Tzoumakas) had asked the Agricultural University and the then NAGREF study for the cultivation of linen and hemp in our country, they made sure (from the moment it was delivered in 2000) to have it locked in the last drawer of their office. We have thus missed the opportunity to lead the emerging cannabis market.

After the change of the law in 2013, (with a bill of the Ministry of Justice) it took 9 questions to the co-competent ministries to finally be able to be signed 3 years later (April 2016). This resulted in the removal of investors such as Hamp-Flax, which invested 5 million euros in Romania in 2015. Even now that the issue of cannabis is a government choice, they do not show the corresponding interest in promoting cultivation. Not a single information day for farmers has been organised at the headquarters of the regions suitable for its cultivation. Not a single press conference to attract manufacturing investment.

Until now in our country, the inflorescence and seed of the plant are exploited for a series of products that have to do with nutrition, well-being and cosmetics.

This is done for three reasons:

  1. It is easy and without large investments to process
  2. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the recognition of the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (CBD), which is found in higher concentrations in industrial hemp.
  3. There is a great added value in the products, so they give a satisfactory income to small producers who process their own production.

Here, however, another kind of problems from other bodies such as General Chemical State Laboratory citing a legislative vacuum does not allow the circulation of products characterized as food, food supplements and cosmetics, which come from legitimate cannabis crops sativa L withTHC<02%, while at the same time there are imported such products. It should be remembered here that the SG of the State played a leading role in the prohibition of the circulation of cannabis products, but also in the decision to prosecute the owners of KANNABISHOP stores and the seizures of their goods at the interministerial meeting that took place in September 1998. In addition, the prosecuting authorities are destroying legitimate crops, perhaps as a result of the delayed transition from the repressive approach to the new data, but also in the arrests of merchants and consumers.

My arrest and accusation of possession of drugs for personal use because I had flour and cannabis soaps in my luggage resulted in a question being submitted to the relevant ministries for the resolution of the outstanding issues and thus with Article 58 of the Law 4554/2018 – we had the vote of an amendment that reads as follows:

  1. The first and second paragraphs of para. 3 of Article 1 of Law Regulation (EC) No 4139/2013 is replaced by the following:

«3. The above substances do not include raw harvested products resulting from the cultivation of cannabis varieties of the species Cannabis Sativa-L, with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of up to 0.2%. Also, with the exception of baby food, food in the sense of Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 2 178/2002, cosmetics and dietary supplements containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which will be defined by the corresponding decisions of the following paragraphs.

By a joint decision of the Ministers of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights and Rural Development and Food , the above limit is adjusted, the terms and conditions for the cultivation of cannabis varieties of the species Cannabis Sativa L, the checks on compliance with the terms and conditions and any other relevant matter are defined. The same decision determines the foods that may contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the maximum permitted levels of these content, the controls of foodstuffs to comply with the content limits and any related matter. A joint decision of the Ministers of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights and Health determines the cosmetic and nutritional supplements that may contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the maximum permissible limits of their content, the controls of cosmetics and dietary supplements for the observance of the content limits and any related issue.

The Joint Ministerial Decisions, however, have not been signed. The working group on the definition of foods that may contain THC and the definition of the maximum permissible limits on them (set up by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change) had to renew the delivery time of the findings for the end of December 2018.

On November 26, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change put forward in public online consultation a plan to amend the Cannabis JMD , which includes suspicion towards growers, increased control mechanisms and endless bureaucracy.

All this creates problems in expanding the cultivation of cannabis. The impact will be shown by the willingness of farmers to deal with it in the new growing year.

Perhaps the solution to these problems will be to find another word about industrial hemp in our language. This is true in other languages (hemp english, Hanf in German, Chanvre French, Canamo in Italian, Canapa in Spanish, etc.). This will free the plant from the “Myth” that follows it.

But what needs to be done NOW is to be understood by all that industrial hemp and its products do not belong (legislatively) to drugs in our country since 2013 and its treatment should be without prejudice, as is the case with other arable crops. Thus , only industrial hemp, which is a natural renewable resource and plant of multiple and important uses, will be able to contribute to the creation of new jobs in agriculture, industry, trade, research and technology, thus boosting the local and national economy.

The Green Greeks Magazine

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