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Estonia To Raise THC Limit for Hemp Crops

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

September 6, 2022

closeup on fresh green marijuana plants, cannabis on a dark background,

iStock

The government of Estonia plans to raise the THC limit for

crops by early next year in a move designed to create more economic opportunities for the northern European nation’s farmers. The change brings Estonian regulations for hemp production in line with standards set by the European Union last year.

In late 2021, the European Parliament and Council of Europe implemented new regulations to increase the THC limit on hemp to 0.3 percent, which is also the standard for legal crops and hemp products in the United States. Under the new regulations, farmers growing approved varieties of hemp that do not exceed the threshold are eligible for agricultural subsidies.

The previous EU threshold on THC limited farmers to about 70 hemp varieties approved for cultivation. The new standard is expected to add another 500 hemp cultivars to the EU list of eligible varieties. 

Ago Siiner, CEO of hemp seed importer Perfect Plant, said that only two varieties of hemp that qualify under the old regulations are worth growing in Estonia. 

“But this change would make another three to five varieties accessible that would be possible for us to grow for seed,”

.

Raising the EU’s THC limit was supported by member nations interested in improving the competitiveness of farmers. In Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, the limit is 1 percent, although other countries on the continent are unlikely to raise the maximum that high until after the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to media reports.

Currently, farmers in Estonia are permitted to grow varieties of hemp with up to 0.2 percent THC. But to conform with the new EU THC potency standard, the Ministry of Social Affairs is in the process of drafting an amendment to the nation’s drug laws to increase the THC limit for hemp to 0.3 percent. The change is expected to become effective by 2023. 

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16,000 Acres of Hemp in Estonia

Estonian farmers are cultivating about 16,000 acres of hemp across the Baltic nation.

who stay under the set THC threshold are eligible for agricultural subsidies. Stephen J. Wyatt is the founder and CEO of Hemp Futures, a company growing hemp on 68 hectares (about 168 acres) of certified organic farmland in Estonia.

“Estonia is a hidden jewel,”

Health Europa’s Medical Cannabis Network. “The environment is very pristine; the water is good; the soil is organic. We’re lucky in that we don’t have a lot of native pest insects, which means we don’t use pesticides at all for growing hemp.”

Farmers and cannabis activists are supporting the new EU standards for hemp THC potency, saying that the current system of varying national standards has hampered the growth of the hemp industry. Estonia’s quick adoption of the new EU standard makes the country the first European nation to do so. Reno Paju, an official with Estonia’s Ministry of Rural Affairs said the new limit could help European farmers compete with farmers in other areas of the world.

“In many other countries worldwide, the limit is 0.3-1 percent,” Paju explained. “The EU is catching up with the rest of the world regarding this requirement.”

Wyatt of Hemp Futures said that the new European standard will help the company compete effectively across the continent.

“We see the EU as our primary market — our backyard; and we see it as a market that is going keep pace with or perhaps outgrow the US over time: the population of Europe is larger than that of the US,” Wyatt said. “By operating initially within Europe, we eliminate customs issues and multiple layers of federal, state, and local government regulations; in the EU we have a common set of laws which regulate CBD.”

Hemp
A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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