How Hemp Will Save the World, or at Least, California

How Hemp Will Save the World, or at Least, California

By Jake Clement

Californians! Who is looking forward to January 1st, 2018?! Now some of you may be thinking “Oh yeah the first day of 2018, it’ll be great to leave this terrible year of 2017 behind and hope for a better 365 days.” And yeah, this is true. But if you’re an advocate of Prop 64, you know why you’re looking forward to the 1st. And it has to do with marijuana, weed, the devil’s lettuce, that mutha-fuckin GAS. That would be because cannabis (which is the actual scientific name) will be officially legal to smoke and purchase, with the approval of the aforementioned Prop 64 back in November of 2016.

Prop 64 had a lot of opposition, with some of it even coming from cannabis activists themselves. There can be a whole conversation had about the implications and consequences of this proposition, but I want to focus on one specifically. It’s four letters long and almost always connected to “hippies.” Okay I guess weed also fits that description, so I’ll just spell it out for you: H-E-M-P!

Hemp is almost always roped in with weed itself, and a lot of people incorrectly think that hemp and weed are the same thing. Though they come from the same cannabis family, they are in fact fairly different. Think of hemp as weed’s responsible, genius older brother. And if weed ever had to deal with passive aggressive comments from his made up disappointed father, they would probably sound something like this:

“You know when hemp is made into paper it can be reused 8 times before it needs to be disposed of. Paper made from tree pulp can only be reused 3 times, I’m so proud of him.”

“Hemp’s biological make up could allow it to be used as an energy source, that could eventually end up replacing fossil fuels. Why can’t you have the same genetic makeup as hemp, weed?”

“Recent studies have shown hemp can actually take toxicities, like nuclear radiation and chemical contamination, out of soils while it grows. What have your recent studies shown weed? Oh, you’re getting more high schoolers blazed than you ever have before… well, at least you’re trying.”

I could make a disparaging fatherly comment towards weed for every one of hemp’s uses, but I would have to write a book instead of an article to have room for all the thousands of uses hemp has. And by the way, that was not me being facetious. Hemp has literally thousands of uses (with some people putting it around 50,000!!). That said, let me highlight a few.

Some folks live in their hemp clothing year-round, but soon enough, we may be living in hemp houses.  Hempcrete is the product of drying the hard, fibrous inside of a hemp stalk, and mixing it with a limestone binder and water (notice how there are zero petrochemicals being used in it’s creation). Hempcrete costs about the same as current insulating products, but is very cost-effective in terms of heating your house. It stores the heat already inside your residence easily within its own mass, and then releases the same stored heat at a slow pace. Basically, hempcrete can begin to store heat while the sun is out and about during the day, and then slowly release said heat as the night begins to cool off. Imagine heaters being a thing of the past! If you live in a snowy area, you’ll probably still need a heater for the foreseeable future, but hempcrete could be saving you big bucks every year! Oh and by the way, hempcrete is naturally flame and earthquake resistant, which is particularly good news for us in CA!

Hemp can also be your daily supplier of important nutritional value!! Hemp seeds are filled with amino acids (proteins), and those omega-things (the good types of fat) all the health nuts scream at you to start incorporating into your diet. Hemp seeds are so nutritional, that they were used as a supplemental food source in China during a time of famine in the Han period.

One of the most interesting uses that is still being looked into today, is hemp’s almost ridiculous ability to extract toxic components from the soil it grows in. I’m not talking about some small toxins, I mean radiation, petrochemicals, all that good (really bad) stuff. Hemp is currently being considered for use in Fukushima, in order to reduce radiation and speed up the ability to reuse the land. It could be extremely beneficial for us since the US gets about 2,000 metric tons of nuclear waste from the nuclear energy industry per year (that’s about 4.4 million pounds if you were wondering).

So with everything that hemp has to give, why the hell have we not been using it?? You can thank the war on drugs, and our country’s seemingly irrational fear of marijuana; which again, is a conversation for another time. You’d think a country in which the founding fathers (I’m talking the guys on the one, ten, and hundred-dollar bills) all grew it themselves would be fairly accepting of this miracle crop! But rather than focus on the past, lets point our vision to the future, one where hemp is grown in every backyard and (literally) everything we use is made out of it!

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