It’s a well known fact that cannabis legalization is a crusade who’s leading demographic is young, progressive entrepreneurs. Legalization effort is well underway across the United States. Therefore, many budding farmers are opting to get in on the ground floor of a burgeoning new legal cannabis industry.
Of course, cannabis legalization is about much more than marijuana and getting high. Hemp, a variety of cannabis grown for its agricultural utility and high CBD yield rather than its narcotic properties, is growing into a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right. Surprisingly, in its meteoric rise to household name status, the environmental benefits of hemp farming are often overlooked — even by investors and advocates.
Exactly how do hemp farms help the planet? Let’s explore the environmental and sustainability motivations behind many budding new farmers choosing to grow it over safer, more lucrative crops.
Hemp & Green Energy Alternatives
It might surprise the odd headline reader that the utility of hemp goes far beyond the potentially therapeutic, non-psychoactive extracts taken from the flower in machine isolation processes. Hemp biomass is rapidly renewable and highly versatile. It can be produced very quickly for alternative forms of energy production with little to no impact on the environment. Hemp seed oil can be rendered into hemp biodiesel, a biofuel usable in any conventional diesel engine.
There are some drawbacks in the use of wind and solar energy. For exapmple, the disposal of non-biodegradable solar panels and wind turbine blades. However, the use of hemp for producing alternative forms of energy is sound, environmentally friendly and sustainable indefinitely. Advocates speculate that cannabis legalization at the federal level could usher in a new paradigm in power solutions for small cities and towns across the country.
Sustainable Building Materials of the Future
Hemp’s woody cellulose (known commonly as “hemp hurd”) shows an incredible degree of utility and versatility. Specifically in its viability in creating environmentally friendly roofing tiles, fiberboard, insulation materials and wall panels. But perhaps the single most notable example of sustainable building materials made from hemp is a building compound called “hempcrete.”
Hempcrete is made by combining hemp hurds with lime and water in a wet-mixing process. The resulting compound is then dried, and can be molded into modular masonry units such as blocks or bricks. The best part? Hempcrete is cooler and lighter than concrete — and has already been used to build thousands of homes in the UK. It’s also much cheaper to produce and rapidly renewable, thanks to hemp’s stellar rate of growth.
Aside from having practical advantages over its namesake, hempcrete cuts down on wastage and pollution even after the building process. This is because its superior breathability renders it virtually impervious to mold and termite infestations. As a result, ot eliminates the need for large-scale solvent and pesticide use in home maintenance.
Carbon Sequestration via Hemp Farms
Even in its farming stage, hemp does plenty to help the environment. Scientific research shows the leading cause of climate change is unprecedented carbon emissions from over-industrialization. In their efforts to address rising carbon emission levels, global environmental agencies have commissioned several studies on the matter, and stated in a comprehensive review that hemp has the ability to trap more carbon per acre than any other industrially grown crop — even outperforming tree plantations.
Carbon sequestration is a process whereby plants absorb carbon from the air and retain it for a set period of its growth cycle. When hemp is harvested and processed into hempcrete blocks or insulation materials, for example, that sequestered carbon is trapped for the lifetime of the building constructed with those products. This makes every hemp farm a highly effective carbon sink. In addition, it introduces a direct incentive for the creation of new farms in the future.
Federal Cannabis Legalization & Hemp Utilization
The current wave of new farmers choosing to grow hemp is likely just the beginning of a new paradigm in the emergence of green energy. With federal cannabis legalization on the horizon this year, there’s a good chance the number of hemp farms around the country will multiply to meet skyrocketing demand due to mass adoption of hemp-sourced building materials, biofuels, plastic alternatives, and even CBD as a form of natural health supplementation.