Industrial hemp licensing

Information for prospective growers of low THC cannabis (industrial hemp), for the production of seed and fibre only.

Controlled drugs are drugs named in misuse of drugs legislation. Cannabis is a Class B controlled drug listed in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and in the Misuse of Drugs Designation Order 2015.

If your company or organisation want to cultivate industrial hemp you need to apply for a controlled drugs domestic licence.

If you are a new or existing grower read our hemp factsheet for information on the licensing process for industrial hemp.

Licences for industrial hemp are generally valid for 3 growing seasons. The licence only allows for the industrial use of the seed and fibre, which are non-controlled parts of the hemp plant. The licence does not allow for the use of the flowers or leaves (‘green’ or controlled materials).

Before you apply

Read the industrial hemp application guidance to help you apply.

To apply, you first need to register as a customer on the controlled drugs licensing system. If your application is successful, you will receive a username and password. You do not need to register again each time you apply.

If you have forgotten your login details or need your password reset, email

You must make sure that each person named on the application form holds a valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The DBS check must be done by Security Watchdog. You can contact them on 01420 558 752 to apply for one. If you have a DBS check by another company, we cannot accept your certificate.

If you, or anyone named on the application, already has a DBS check in place for drug licensing purpose dated 3 years or older from Security Watchdog you will need to apply for a new DBS check.

If you have subscribed to the DBS update service, you should include this information in your licence application.

2022 growing season - important dates for prospective applicants

Monday 3 January 2022

Applications for licences to cultivate in the 2022 season can be made from this date. Applications received before this date will be rejected as premature.

Monday 28 February 2022

Last date for new prospective growers of ‘industrial hemp’ for seed and/or fibre only to apply to register as a user of our drug licensing portal. If approved, you will be able to apply for a license.

Friday 1 April 2022

Last date for first-time or repeat growers of ‘industrial hemp’ for seed and/or fibre only to submit licence applications. This is so that we can try to reach an initial decision on applications by Friday 29 April 2022. You must have completed enhanced DBS checks for each person named on the licence application before submission. The application must be limited to outdoor cultivation a purpose wholly covered by the hemp policy as set out in our grower factsheet.

If you apply after the cut-off dates

If you apply to register or apply for a licence after these cut-off dates, we cannot guarantee processing times and we may have to reject your application or registration request.

If you apply to register on or after Sunday 1 May 2022, it is likely that we will reject your request without substantive consideration. This is because it would not be practical to consider an application and issue a licence for outdoor cultivation before you need to start sowing, and cultivation cannot take place without a licence.

If you apply before the ‘application window’ opens

If you apply to register, or (if you are already registered) apply for a licence before the ‘application window opens’ date above we are likely to reject your request as premature. We will not hold it open and you will need to re-apply.

Apply for an industrial hemp licence

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Our fees cover the costs of processing an application and are charged per licensing decision so different fee levels may apply. The fee levels are set out in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2010. Read the full list of fees for controlled drugs licences.

After you apply

If your controlled drugs licence is approved, you will receive an email with instructions for payment. We will not issue your licence until the fee is paid.

Once you have paid, the licence will be sent electronically via email.

If you cancel your application

We consider how much to charge for cancellations case by case.

You may be charged any costs already owed, relating to administration, travel or accommodation arrangements, if:

  • you cancel a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
  • you request to change the time or date of a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
  • you cancel your application after you receive an outcome from us

We may also ask for our administrative costs to be paid within 10 working days. We can email you extra information about these costs.

Annual hemp grower statement

As a licensed industrial hemp grower, you must submit an annual hemp grower statement by 1 May each year.

Thefts and losses

You can report any theft or unaccounted losses of controlled drugs by email to using the thefts and losses form.

Licence no longer needed

If your company no longer needs a controlled drugs licence you will need to submit a controlled drugs licence return premises closure statement. Even if you continue to trade but no longer handle controlled drugs you will need to submit a statement.

Personal information

You can read details of how we handle your personal information.

Contact details

Domestic licensing


or call 0300 105 4848

This address deals with domestic (UK) controlled substance licenses including precursor chemicals, applications, renewals, compliance visits, thefts and losses, surrender or returning licence, or general enquiries about domestic licensing.

Published 16 August 2019
Last updated 25 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. New wording about how licence will be sent out after payment.

  2. Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2022 growing season.

  3. Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2021 growing season.

  4. Added important date information for industrial hemp licence applications for the 2020 growing season.

  5. Corrected text to say an industrial hemp licence is generally valid for 3 growing seasons.

  6. First published.