Since 1999, after intense lobbying from unions representing French farmers, the THC limit for European hemp has been capped at 0.2%. Yet two decades hence, that standard is being blamed for negatively impacting the viability of the European hemp industry. For instance, adoption of the 0.2% limit reduced both the number of hemp strains listed in the official European Union (EU) plant variety catalogue, and the number of strains which European farmers can cultivate (as of November 2019, the catalogue contained 72 hemp strains).

By definition, reducing the number of strains limits hemp farmers’ choices in selecting strains suitable for their local environments. It also weakens the gene pool: After 20 years’ cultivation from a limited selection, farmers fear that they will need to increase their use of pesticides or fertilizers to compensate, a negative outcome and impact on the environment that might be avoided were the maximum THC level increased….

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