UK's answer to olive oil? Crop catches eye of Jamie Oliver - and the police
The production of hemp in Britain has a long and glorious history. Until the industrial revolution it was widely grown to make cloth, rope, paper and lamp oil. Cotton and synthetic materials caused it to fall out of fashion but it has a habit of coming back when times are hard: in the second world war farmers in the US were told to grow hemp to ease shortages of textiles and rope. But cotton, synthetic fabrics and the association with cannabis prompted many farmers to stop growing the crop and its production was prohibited in the US.
But the report emphasises the environmental benefits: hemp grows quickly and easily, so it does not need to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, and it provides habitats for wildlife. The tough fibre is used in a variety of products, from car door panels, concrete, insulation blocks and resin to teabags and banknotes. The report suggests hemp is an "attractive crop from an environmental viewpoint" and adds that there is "some justification" for encouraging its wider production.