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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Cannabis boost to rural economy
Cliff Spencer
Cliff Spencer hopes hemp will make his farm profitable

Cannabis is growing legally in fields around Driffield.

In the first experiment of its kind in East Yorkshire, 300 acres of land is being used to grow the plant.

But it is not normal cannabis - this variety has no narcotic value.

If smoked all it will do is cause a nasty cough.

The first shoots of the government-funded project are now beginning to show.

Hemp facts
Ancient Greeks used hemp fibre in clothing
Hemp cloth was common in the 13th century
Hemp is thermally efficient and absorbs sound
Hemp can be treated to be non-flammable
Hemp can only be grown in the UK under Home Office licence

Farmer Cliff Spencer said: "We have been growing wheat for a number of years and the price has dropped and dropped and dropped to the point where we can't make any money out of it.

"We believe that the market for hemp will bring profitability back to the countryside."

There is no waste with the crop and every part of the plant can be used for building materials, food, detergent, wool, medicine, oil, ink and fuel.

With a relatively short growth cycle of 120 days, hemp is an efficient and economical crop for farmers to grow.

Unlike many crops, hemp can be grown in most locations and climates with only moderate water and fertilizer requirements.

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