Hemp: Revolutionary and Innovative
Hemp is old news. Records of its use date back to the first millennium BC, and George Washington is reported to have grown it at his home in Mount Vernon. Yet despite its storied history, the hemp industry has faced significant challenges in the United States due to regulation and its associations with its recreational cousin, marijuana. In recent years, however, legislation has been introduced that could allow for overdue advancement of the industry, and hemp proponents are starting to see a much greener future.
Before delving into what hemp can do, it’s important to clarify what it cannot do. Despite its botanical similarities to marijuana, hemp produces such low levels of the psychoactive compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that a person would be unable to achieve a high. By contrast, hemp contains elevated amounts of cannabidiol, an anti-psychoactive chemical that can block highs. While the plants do come from the same species, their uses are vastly different. One would be disappointed to find themselves smoking hemp and wearing clothes made of marijuana fibers.
Despite its differences from marijuana, the US government classifies hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that while hemp is technically not illegal, there are strict regulations on its production. Growers must have a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or face federal charges or confiscation. This classification makes growing industrial hemp difficult, and starting with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, efforts have been introduced to Congress to alter the definition of marijuana so that it specifically does not include industrial hemp. Should these efforts succeed, America would find itself primed for a surge in hemp production and reap the many benefits that could result.
Hemp is a low-impact plant and absorbs carbon dioxide, returning it to the soil, which is beneficial for the environment and could have a hand in reversing climate change. By drawing in greenhouse gasses, less heat is trapped by the atmosphere, and the chances of increases to global temperatures are lessened. Furthermore, increases in hemp farming curtails the need for the importation of seeds, and raises the distribution of hemp products, bolstering the agricultural sector. Farmers could harvest seeds for much sought-after hemp oil, as well as hemp fibers for use in clothing and paper goods. With all of hemp’s uses, farmers would have a much more lucrative crop to supplement slowing economies.
While the rest of the world turns to electric, some scientists believe hemp could be the cars of the future, and Alan Crosky and his colleagues at the School of Material Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia have been working on just that. Speaking with ABC News, Crosky discussed his work and its implications for the future. Through the use of hemp fibers, Crosky and his team have been developing a replacement for the plastic and metal components that comprise vehicles. The fibers are cleaned, heated, and molded into hard panels and fillings, which become the outer shells of cars. With lighter bodies, these cars would consume less fuel, and due to their biodegradable nature, they could be buried in the ground at their end of their lifespans, giving back to the environment instead of rusting in a lot. With hemp, the salvage yards of today could become living green spaces. Hemp oil also has the potential to power such vehicles by becoming biofuel. Through the use of hemp, auto manufacturers could give a new meaning to “going green.”
With constant advancements going on within the industry, innovative companies, such as Ooze, are revolutionizing what is available for consumers on a constant basis. Like the hemp industry, marijuana has evolved itself into the wax and concentrates area. Constant advancements in e-rigs, water bubblers, and different accessories help make this industry the most talked about.
With its enormous potential, the future of hemp is limitless. While the country waits for DEA regulations to move with the times, hemp growers and proponents will continue to perfect and innovate the plant’s uses. Though no one likes to wait, the more time the hemp industry has to develop its products, the better prepared it’ll be when hemp goes fully mainstream.
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