Hemp farmer wins state pay out

A hemp farmer in Halland in western Sweden has won a court ruling stating that his crop was illegally seized by the Swedish state.

After almost ten years of legal struggle in the Swedish and European courts, the man has been awarded 10,000 kronor ($1,500) compensation.

The farmer’s application to grow hemp for medicinal purposes was rejected by the Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket) in 2000. The agency based its judgement on Swedish narcotics legislation, but the man received the backing of the county administrative court which remitted the matter.

The agency subsequently rejected the man’s application in April 2001.

In May 2001, the EU Commission established that a ban against the industrial production of hemp was not consistent with union law. But the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs refused to budge arguing that national law superseded union law.

On four occasions in 2001, the police then seized harvested hemp from the man, who was then suspected of serious drugs offences.

In October of the same year, the prosecutor asked permission from the court to confiscate the seized hemp. But the court sought the advice of the EU court, which in January 2003 found against the Swedish authorities. In March 2003 the confiscation order was revoked.

The man then approached the justice chancellor (JK) and demanded 35,000-40,000 kronor in damages for seven tonnes of destroyed hemp. JK has now calculated that a reasonable compensation is 10,000 kronor.

While industrial hemp is cultivated from the plants of the Cannabis genus, it is a durable, soft fibre used for manufacturing products such as paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, health food and fuel. It requires few pesticides and no herbicides and is one of the fastest growing biomasses.

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