The Senate pushes to support the hemp industry

The senators adopted a resolution that urges the government to support the hemp industry in France, both for industrial outlets and for well-being.

“In the hemp, All is well ; it’s like in the pig”, summarizes the senator Christian Klinger at the lectern of the Senate, during the discussion, on November 17, 2022, of a motion for a resolution by Guillaume Gontard on the economic development of hemp in France.

This resolution received the support of a large majority of senators. The explanations of vote set out beforehand insisted on the interest agroecological of culture, on the farmer compensationand on opportunities to reindustrialise rural territories with processing companies downstream of the sector. “The diversity of support shows all the importance of this subject as well as all its complexity”, rejoices, in reaction, Dominique FaureSecretary of State for Rural Affairs.

The trade unions active in the construction of a CBD sector (French Association of Cannabinoid Producers (PSAC), the Professional Hemp Syndicate (SPC) and the Union of CBD Professionals (UPCBD) unanimously welcomed its adoption and welcomed the joint work carried out with parliamentarians.

Lack of visibility

The purpose of this resolution was also to push the government to clarify the regulations on the uses of hemp. Here again, the consensus is divided enough to deplore the lack of visibility on this point. The Secretary of State did not make a quick release announcement. It refers to the new scientific council, established since February 2022 and piloted by the Interchanvre interprofession: “a roadmap is being drafted”.

However, three salient points emerged from the senatorial debates to get the sector moving quickly:

  • Energy saving in construction;
  • Valorization of carbon capture;
  • Clarification of the regulations around CBD, a non-psychotropic compound essentially contained in the flower.

Energy saving

The hemp straw used in the construction of buildings has insulating qualities that are widely accepted. However, its use does not receive the public support of other insulators. “An amendment to this effect was tabled on the occasion of the finance bill for 2023”, rejoices Guillaume Gontard. The senator Laura Darcos explains that the situation could unblock in the coming months.

New professional rules are being validated. “But another obstacle to the use of hemp in buildings results from the impossibility for project owners to value it with the energy certificateswhich requires a guarantee on the materials”: it therefore calls on the profession to lift this brake to push for the real use of this bio-sourced material which responds well to the logic of energy sobriety.

Low carbon label

The track of promoting the agro-ecological qualities of hemp through carbon certificates is being considered. The interprofession is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty in this direction, explains Frank Barber, farmer, president of Interchanvre and Planète Chanvre (hemp farmer). He spoke at a conference organized, at the same time as the debate in the Senate, by Afja (French Association of Agricultural Journalists). “We are quite confident,” he told La France Agricole.

Overall, senators share this confidence. The senator Vanina Paoli-Gaslin emphasizes the ability to quickly store the carbon dioxide implicated in global warming: “A hectare of hemp absorbs 15 tonnes of CO2 over a year, the equivalent of a hectare of forest”, she says, like several of her colleagues. The Secretary of State Dominique Faure therefore wants to integrate it into the carbon credit market to pay this remuneration to farmers.

But the sector wants to go further by placing its reflection on the scale of the whole of the promotion of culture. Unlike the low carbon label which recovers the carbon accumulated in the soil during the plant cycle, the sector aims to recover carbon storage over the long term, due to the industrial outlets for hemp (insulation, construction, textiles). Compensation offered today via the low carbon label for large food crops arrive around 50 € per hectare at most, he explained. “We are on models where we think we can exceed 200 € per hectare. Interchanvre would carry that. […] This would bring all of this remuneration back to the farmer, rather than passing [par un tiers] who would take part.”

The CBD Question

Finally, the third salient point of the discussion relates to the CBD industry. Otherwise called cannabidiol, CBD is a non-psychotropic but relaxing molecule contained in the hemp flower. But the flower contains another molecule, THC, which is a prohibited euphoric drug. All the difficulty of separating the two circuits has led to a twisted legal ball which everyone hopes will be resolved by a decision of the Council of State in the coming months.

It is on this point that the oppositions are the strongest between the senators. Guillaume Gontard proposes to raise to 1% the tolerance threshold for THC in the varieties authorized for CBD. Many of his colleagues ask to stay at the European threshold of 0.3%, which is already higher than that of 0.2% remained in French legislation. Others argue that delaying this clarification risks missing an opportunity for agricultural and industrial development.

Jean Claude Tissot approves the idea of ​​Guillaume Gontard in favor of a label for the production of French hemp flower. He sees this as an attractive remuneration for the farmer since he testifies to a selling price of the flower of around 600 euros per kilogram in 2022. Experienced producers mentioned two years ago a yield of 800 kg at 1 ton of flowers per hectare.

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