There are difficulties with growing hemp that you don't have with other crops, senior inspector at the Department of Agriculture Michael Moloney has said.

"If I want to grow a crop of maize tomorrow morning, I can get the seed, get a contractor, or I could have my own gear, and put it in the ground and harvest it," he said.

"It [hemp] is not treated the same way - you have to apply for a licence, you have to get licence - a one-year licence - and it only allows you to grow the crop for certain purposes," he said.

He added that the representative organisations would "contend" that the most valuable part of it is prohibited.


Moloney was challenged by Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on the decline of hemp grown in Ireland and how farmers have no "confidence" from the Department to increase the scale of the crop grown.

"It seems very dismissive of the Department of Agriculture," Deputy Browne said.

Moloney said: "We haven't yet seen, backed up with financials, that there is great potential for hemp to be grown on a wider scale," he said.

Those structures aren't there with hemp at the moment

Moloney added that the Department of Agriculture is not in control of the licensing of hemp nor the control of the regulations.

In other words, it is outside the Department's remit.

"The result of a previous consultation in 2019 was that it should continue to be controlled by the Department of Health and dealt with by the HPRA in relation to licencing," he said.

Teagasc director Frank O'Mara said that farmers who are growing hemp at the minute are growing it in a "vacuum" because they don't know what the market for it is going to be.


"Confidence is needed by farmers - they like structures. You get a price for your kilo of beef, you get a price for your litre of milk.

"Those structures aren't there with hemp at the moment," he said.

O'Mara said that the lack of market for the fibre is the main issue.

"There’s no use for that fibre and it's a pity. If you do grow it for the botanicals, the seed or the CBD oil, you're leaving all this carbon on the ground.

"That's a lot of carbon that you are allowing to biodegrade on the ground," he said.

He said that there should be some sort of industry to give confidence to the growers so that they know there is a market outlet for the fibre.

He added that the fibre should be used to grow the use of hempcrete in the country, adding that not all buildings need to be made from concrete.