Recap: Industrial Hemp As Planetary Panacea
‘Panacea’ means a ‘cure all.’ This is not some marketing or ideological hype, this is real. For thousands of years, Human Beings have continuously improved their means of existence by using their creative minds to discover the Principles of Nature. Their understanding of these principles enabled them to develop tools and technology to meet their immediate and future needs. These included language, clothing, astronomy and calendars, hunting equipment, farming, means of transportation, and yes, the subject of this article, building materials for shelter from the elements.
As it so happens, for much of our history following the most recent Ice Age, including the material used to document some of this history, our friend the Hemp plant had been one of the most important resources we used to develop fabrics for clothing, for sails, for tents, for rugs, for rope and twine, for oil, as well as for paper. In fact, the words Cannabis and canopy have the same roots. The world had an abundance of Hemp plants.
American Revolutionary Hemp Farmers and Builders Then
The period of history following the successful American Revolution, led by Hemp farmers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and inspired by Benjamin Franklin (who made good use of Hemp paper for his successful printing press business) was characterized by rapid growth of the science driven, modern productive model of national economy. There was an abundance of industrial plants, one could say. Yes of course there was the ancient relic of chattel slavery, but this was intended to be phased out.
American-style Revolutionary Hemp Farmers and Hemp Builders Now
Presumably, the Reader was brought here by a search for eco-friendly, sustainable, efficient, natural and interesting solutions to our modern challenges, based on Industrial Hemp, and Hemp-based products.
Today, thanks to the World Wide Web, we have access to well researched informational and commercial websites, dedicated to the same thing as this one- reviving Industrial Hemp.
Twentieth Century: The Empire Strikes Back
If one asks the question: ‘If Hemp is so wonderful, what’s the problem?’ then one can easily research some history on the question, which vast history is beyond the scope of this short article. Suffice it to say, that the ‘economic’ interests behind the oil, plastics, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper industries, might offer some clue, as to what the problem is. One landmark document is the book by Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. (Google yourself a free downloadable pdf copy!)
Fortunately, much of Eurasia never totally banned the cultivation of Hemp. Canada permitted farmers to grow Hemp in 1998. In the US, this happened in 2014.
For now, much of the Hemp economy here seems to be centered around Hemp seed and Hemp seed oil production, and some textiles.
Dawn of A New Hemp Order
As of 2018, the three economic sectors of the Hemp Economy which may be the most powerful catalysts for ushering in a ‘New Hemp Order’ are in the development of Hemp nano materials, Hemp ‘plastics’ and Hemp building materials.
One of the more striking Hemp statistics, is on the question of pulp, paper and lumber: One acre of Hemp crop yields per annum (or more, depending on which part of the globe you look) will produce as much structural fiber as FOUR ACRES OF TREES, WHICH TAKE UP TO TWENTY YEARS TO MATURE!
There are now thankfully a growing number of companies and associations dedicated to building homes from a wonderful new Hemp based material- Hempcrete, rather building with lumber, concrete and fiberglass (another ‘touchy’ subject).
Some of these companies include Just Bio Fiber (see their intro video here), Hempcrete, Hemp Works, Hempbuilding, Global Hemp Group, Tiny Hemp Houses, the IHBA, UK Hempcrete, The Hemp Builder, and Hemp Masonry in Australia, among many others.
The more Industrial Hemp we grow worldwide, the fewer trees we’ll have to chop down for wood and paper. The more Industrial Hemp we grow, the healthier will our soil and atmosphere be, since the mighty Hemp plant not only sucks in C02, but also replenishes the soil.
Hempcrete is made by combining Hemp hurds (see photo) with lime, and generally molded into blocks, sort of like giant Lego blocks! The same Hemp hurds are also used for making Hemp particle boards, and insulation.
Among the wonderful qualities of Hempcrete are:
- It has a very high insulation value
- Very fire resistant
- Easily handled, as the material is less dense than cement blocks
- Makes breathable and non-toxic walls that are moisture and air permeable
- Less brittle than cement, which adds extra resiliency to earthquakes
- Can last over 100 years
- Insect and mold resistant
- Hempcrete blocks can easily be cut with hand tools directly in the field
- The blocks’ interlocking design make for easy, flexible and rapid installation
GEORGE WASHINGTON picked up guns and an army to defeat the Empire then, but we can make a present day change using the web, networking, etc. If you are only interested in knowing more about Industrial Hemp, that’s OK. If you are seriously considering investing in building a home, storage shed or simple experimental cabin with Hemp materials, that’s fine too. You can take a look at some of the companies listed above and see what they offer. However, if you are blown away by the socio-economic and political implications of what we can do with Hemp, then understand the importance of the passing references to Hemp in early America, as something so vital and beneficial as Hemp can only be successfully re-introduced if our collective desire overpowers the present arrangement. ‘Successful’ here means to replace the predominance of petroleum, pulp and paper, fiberglass and plastics, with Industrial Hemp.
It means replacing economic cannibalism with Cannabis.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Continue to study the history and benefits of Industrial Hemp, begin to gradually integrate Hemp products (more articles and links to follow in subsequent posts…), even if they cost a bit more (the way PC’s, laptops, cell phones and tablets did when they first appeared!), tell your friends, family and colleagues.