Crop17, a project to help investors set up legal cannabis farms in the UK like the one illustrated in the photo

By Chris Bovey

A new commercial venture, Crop17, has been set up to help people jump through the hoops of fire to obtain a Home Office license to legally grow cannabis in the UK.

Real estate company Savills and cannabis consultancy Hanway Associates have teamed up with indoor growing specialist CambridgeHOK. The aim of the project is to help investors enter the medical cannabis production and export market.

Conservative Party donor, Savills, who are better known for selling high-end homes made the partnership to form Crop17 that they claim will help farmers with sourcing equipment, knowing the best land for the crop, and navigating the huge legal minefield to obtain the correct paperwork to grow and sell the Class B drug.

According to the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk farmers are learning how they can benefit from growing cannabis – more lucrative per gram than strawberries.

Cannabis is illegal in the UK and legal medicinal cannabis is almost impossible to obtain. However, the cannabis market is still huge, as it can be exported to countries where cannabis has been legalised or laws relaxed. The UK is currently the largest exporter of legal cannabis, despite it being illegal over here.

Crop17 and connections to the Tory Party

Photo of Patrick Harte of CambridgeHOK

Patrick Harte from CambridgeHOK oversaw the transformation of a huge 18-hectare tomato-growing nursery into cannabis production for the pharmaceutical sector.

Crop17 is being assisted by Patrick Harte from CambridgeHOK, who oversaw the controversial transformation of a huge 18-hectare tomato-growing nursery into cannabis production for the pharmaceutical sector.

The huge greenhouse, possibly the largest legal indoor weed grow in the world, is owned by British Sugar whose Managing Director, Paul Kenwood, is married to Victoria Atkins MP who at the time was the Conservative Drugs Minister. After the embarrassing revelations were revealed in the media, Atkins was banned from talking about marijuana for the Government because her husband runs a giant cannabis farm.

Philip May, the husband of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, is a relationship manager for Capital Group – an American financial services company that has a 22% share in GW Pharma who produce cannabis-based medicines from British Sugar’s weed.

The other partner in the venture is Hanway Associates, whose CEO, George McBride, spoke at the 2018 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

McBride is a lobbyist for legal, tested and standardised cannabis-based medicines.

Considerable sums

I spoke to Alex Bragg, Director of Food and Farming at Savills, based in East Anglia.

Alex told me it was a coincidence he was based in East Anglia, where British Sugar’s huge indoor cannabis grow is located.

He confirmed that the aim of Crop17 was to facilitate clients to get the legal permissions to grow medical cannabis in the UK for the lucrative export market.

I asked him how much it would cost for their services. Unfortunately, he was unable to give an exact figure, however, he did say the sum would be “considerable”.

Feed the Birds has reported before about questionable links to the Conservative Party and giant legal weed grows in the UK. I suspect if I applied to the Home Office for a license to legally grow cannabis it would be met with a resounding no.

Yet it seems if you are a Conservative Party donor, or married to a senior Conservative MP, or have spoken at Conservative Party Conferences, and get out your cheque book for a “considerable sum” then it is possible to obtain a license to legally grow cannabis in Britain.

I asked medicinal cannabis consumer, Edwin Stratton,  if he would donate money to the Tory Party to get a licence to grow weed.

Edwin said: “Never in a million years. It’s a principled stance. I don’t give money to racists, or people who kill the disabled.”


Chris Bovey, writer and musician.

Chris Bovey is a businessman, writer, artist, musician and practical joker. He lives in Devon with his partner, two children and cat. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter @_dr_dremp.

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