Moroccan Students Build Off-Grid ‘Hemp House’ Made Almost Entirely From Hemp and Solar Panels

Moroccan Students Build Off-Grid ‘Hemp House’ Made Almost Entirely From Hemp and Solar Panels

A team of students in Morocco have successfully developed an environmentally sustainable home made almost exclusively from hemp and solar panels.

The building was erected as an entry into the SUNIMPLANT project’s ‘Solar Decathlon’, a competition organized by the United States Department of Energy and Morocco’s Centre de recherche en Energie solaire et Energies nouvelles to encourage construction of solar-powered buildings.

This design is unique and was built from only locally sourced hemp, vegetable-based bio-resins, and other non-synthetic materials found in the region.

“This ‘spaceship’ is advanced in time and reflects a turn not only in North Africa but in hemp construction, which doesn’t have comparable prototypes anywhere in the world.” — Monika Brümmer, German Architect and Project Leader

Monika is also the co-founder of Adrar Nouh, a Spain-based NGO with a focus on using hemp to build environmentally sustainable homes in Morocco’s poor and rural High Rif region.

The spherical home spans 90 square meters (approximately 969 square feet) and features 24 photovoltaic solar panels with a total price tag of only $120,000. The structure actually costs less than half of the most expensive entries in the competition.

According to Brümmer, the building could be optimized even further if hemp-clay boards were installed as internal partitioning walls and floors. Although funding restrictions did partially obstruct their original goal, the home features some interesting innovations such as hemp wool-derived panels which protect the underside of the solar panels against extreme weather conditions, an important inclusion for a region which reaches up to 114°F in the shade during August and September.

Other contestants included students from Morocco’s National School of Architecture and National School of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics, located in Germany.

Monika’s building offers the opportunity of an entirely off-grid experience, unencumbered by the need for outside electricity while maintaining the comfort of a modern lifestyle.

“The cylindrical envelope of the circular building, with minimal exposure of the 24 exterior panels, gives interior comfort through optimal damping and thermal phase shift, and osmosis of the components in the hempcrete formulation,” said Monika Brümmer, as reported by Hemp Today.

Demand for hemp-based building materials has been high lately, especially as more people learn that ‘hempcrete’ can replace traditional fiberglass, sheetrock, and drywall and offers superior temperature control, flame resistance, and noise reduction.

The product also has the potential to be carbon-neutral, but US-based growers tend to focus on growing hemp for CBD and other compounds instead of hempcrete, which requires taller and more fibrous hemp stalks.

Despite technical difficulties, this Moroccan ‘hemp house’ shows the world that environmentally sustainable construction is possible.


Phillip Schneider is a student as well as a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.

This article (Moroccan Students Build Off-Grid ‘Hemp House’ Made Almost Entirely from Hemp and Solar Panels) as originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phillip Schneider and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

Scientists Investigate Cannabis Terpenes as Possible COVID-19 Treatment

Scientists Investigate Cannabis Terpenes as Possible COVID-19 Treatment

Aromatic oils that give cannabis its signature taste and smell might have a role to play in fighting the coronavirus.

Israeli researchers at the forefront of cannabis research are now investigating the potential of a formulation of cannabis terpenes in treating viral infections, COVID-19 included.

Is cannabis effective against COVID-19? Researchers want to know

Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are aromatic oils that are responsible for the taste and smell of cannabis — but that’s not all that they do. 

Research suggests that terpenes play a considerable role in not only tempering the intoxicating effects of THC, but also creating synergy with phytocannabinoids and even increasing their therapeutic value.

In the context of the coronavirus crisis, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology are testing the therapeutic potential of cannabis terpenes.

During previous severe coronavirus outbreaks, such as those caused by the SARS coronavirus in 2002-2003, researchers found that cannabis terpenes reduced disease severity and impact in both in-vitro and in-vivo. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry, Chinese scientists concluded that the terpenes blocked a certain protein that allows the virus to replicate its genetic material

“Our lab has been approved to operate as a corona lab, and in doing so, we are promoting two studies based on existing cannabis studies,” Professor Dedi Meiri of the Israel Institute of Technology said in a statement for Health Europa

“First, we will try to identify the plant’s own molecules that are capable of suppressing the immune response to the COVID-19 coronavirus – which causes inflammation and severe disease – to lower the immune system response without suppressing it, thereby providing better complementary treatment to the steroids, which completely suppress the immune system.”

Meiri and colleagues hope that the terpenes might modulate the effect of cytokine storms –– the overreaction of the body’s immune system that can cause complications and multiple organ failure. 

The novel formulation is designed to be administered by direct inhalation.

Cytokines are small proteins released by many different cells in the body, including those of the immune system where they coordinate the body’s response against infection and trigger inflammation. 

It’s believed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can trigger cytokine storm syndrome, attacking healthy lungs, eventually causing their collapse. 

Besides looking into terpenes’ potential to lower the immune system response, the Israeli researchers are also investigating how these cannabis molecules interact with the ACE2 receptor. It is thanks to this receptor, which is abundantly found in cells in the respiratory tract, that the coronavirus enters cells and begins replicating its genetic material. 

“There is a process that examines the effect of cannabis molecules on proteins as well, and we are now examining which ones are relevant to the same receptor, with the goal of reducing its expression, making it difficult for the virus to enter the cell and proliferate,” Meiri said. 

Previously, researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, found that certain Cannabis sativa extracts could be used in treatments to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

A word of caution 

The results of these preliminary studies shouldn’t by any means be considered an endorsement of cannabis in these trying times. COVID-19 is a severe respiratory illness that is known to aggressively attack the lungs. As such, those who smoke tobacco or marijuana might be at particular risk. 

Research on cannabis as a COVID-19 treatment is still ongoing and it will likely take a long time before we have clear answers. In the meantime, don’t self-medicate and risk making matters worse.

This story first appeared at ZME Science.

Is fungus the answer to climate change? Student who grew a mushroom canoe says yes.

Is fungus the answer to climate change? Student who grew a mushroom canoe says yes.

“Mushrooms are here to help us — they’re a gift,” college student Katy Ayers said. “They’re our biggest ally for helping the environment.”

April 18, 2020, 6:17 AM PDTBy Sarah Kuta

Catch a glimpse of Katy Ayers paddling her canoe on a Nebraska lake this summer and you might do a double take.

At first glance, her 8-foot vessel looks much like any other canoe — same oblong shape, same pointed ends, same ability to float on water.

But upon closer inspection, it’s clearly anything but ordinary: Ayers’ canoe is made out of mushrooms.

More specifically, her boat is made from mycelium, the dense, fibrous roots of the mushroom that typically live beneath the soil. Ayers, 28, a student at Central Community College in Columbus, Nebraska, even gave her creation a fitting name: “Myconoe.”

Though Ayers has taken the canoe out for several quasi-recreational excursions — and plans to do so again as soon as the weather warms up in the rural part of Nebraska where she lives — her real goal with the eye-catching project is to raise broader awareness about mushrooms. She is part of a growing movement of mushroom advocates, people who believe these squishy, sometimes edible fungi can help solve some of our most pressing environmental problems.

Katy Ayers' 8-foot vessel is made from mycelium, the dense, fibrous roots of mushroom that typically live beneath the soil.
Katy Ayers’ 8-foot vessel is made from mycelium, the dense, fibrous roots of mushroom that typically live beneath the soil.Courtesy Katy Ayers

In addition to their ability to break down harmful pollutants and chemicals, Ayers pointed out that mushrooms can be used for everything from household insulation to furniture to packaging, replacing plastics, Styrofoam and other materials that are hard to recycle and harmful to the environment.

“Mushrooms are here to help us — they’re a gift,” Ayers said. “There’s so much we can do with them beyond just food; it’s so limitless. They’re our biggest ally for helping the environment.”

Mushrooms aren’t exactly mainstream, though citizen scientists like Ayers and some private companies hope to someday change that. The New York-based biotech company Ecovative Design, for instance, has made headlines for its mushroom-based packaging material, which has been deployed by companies such as Ikea and Dell. Mushrooms are being used at the local level to help clean up toxic debris and contaminated soil — a process known as mycoremediation — but so far have not been adopted on a larger scale.

Ayers never paid much attention to mushrooms until she enrolled in 2018 at the college in Columbus, a small city with around 23,000 residents. During her first semester, an English instructor challenged students to find and study a potential solution to climate change.

During her research, Ayers came across a 2013 documentary called “Super Fungi,” which made the case for mushrooms as an environmental ally and highlighted some of their innovative uses.

Ayers was sold on the power of mushrooms instantly. Having learned that mycelium is buoyant and waterproof, she decided to try using it to create a boat.

“I always have very big ideas,” she said. “So I see something and it’s small and I just want to make it bigger and better. Since I’m from Nebraska, I love to fish. I’ve always wanted a boat. Why not just grow it?”

With a mini-grant from the college, Ayers got to work. She reached out to a mushroom company in nearby Grand Island for help, sharing her idea with owner Ash Gordon. He agreed to help immediately and offered her a summer internship so she could learn the ins and outs of fungi.

During the day, Ayers worked alongside Gordon at Nebraska Mushroom, doing lab work, creating spawn and harvesting, packaging and processing mushrooms.

After finishing their work for the day, the two turned their attention to the canoe project. They first built a wooden skeleton and a hammock-like structure to suspend the boat-shaped form in the air.

Katy Ayers and Ash Gordon sandwiched the boat's skeleton with mushroom spawn and let nature take over.
Katy Ayers and Ash Gordon sandwiched the boat’s skeleton with mushroom spawn and let nature take over.Courtesy Katy Ayers

They next sandwiched the boat’s skeleton with mushroom spawn and let nature take over.

For two weeks, the fledgling canoe hung inside a special growing room in Gordon’s facility, where temperatures ranged between 80 and 90 degrees and the humidity hovered between 90 to 100 percent. The last step in the process was to let the 100-pound boat dry in the Nebraska sun.

Sarah Kuta

Sarah Kuta is a freelance journalist based in the Denver area.

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Coronavirus Crisis Shows Marijuana Is ‘Essential’ And Mainstream

Never has it been more clear than during the current COVID-19 pandemic that marijuana has arrived at the forefront of mainstream American society.

In state after state, governors and public health officials are deeming cannabis businesses “essential” operations that can stay open amid coronavirus-related forced closures and stay-at-home mandates. People might not be able to go bowling or see a movie in theaters, but they can still stock up on marijuana.

It wasn’t long ago that anyone growing and selling marijuana faced the risk of being arrested, prosecuted and jailed. But now, in the era of expanding legalization, cannabis providers in many states are held up as vital members of the community who are providing a valuable service on par with picking up prescription drugs at a pharmacy or filling up your car at a gas station.

Advocacy groups have pushed governors and state officials to ensure that medical marijuana patients in particular can maintain access to the cannabis they need. But because many people who use marijuana for therapeutic purposes don’t necessarily jump through the hoops needed in order to become officially certified as patients, recreational businesses are also seen as crucial access points that need to stay open.

“Most of the American public and an increasing number of government leaders stopped buying into the demonization of cannabis years ago,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “Now, not only have two-thirds of states recognized that medical cannabis should be legal—with 11 legalizing adult-use—many are recognizing that safe access to cannabis is essential.”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said it is “encouraging to see our nation’s public policy in practice is finally catching up to where the vast majority of Americans have been for years.” 

“The recognition by our government officials that cannabis is indeed not just here to stay, but an essential part of life for millions of Americans—particularly in the patient community—is a welcome move in the right direction,” he said. “It is also a move that could not have come at a better moment for those who still require access to maintain quality of life during these trying and troubled times.”

In some states, officials have enacted new temporary policies such as expanded delivery services or curbside pickup that make it easier for consumers to get their hands on marijuana while respecting social distancing measures. Others are allowing doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine instead of requiring that they conduct in-person examinations.

Here’s a look at how states that are taking steps to maintain legal marijuana access during the COVID-19 outbreak:

California

Regulators deemed cannabis retail outlets to be essentialbusinesses that can stay open amid a broader stay-at-home order. Localities, including Los Angeles County and San Francisco, have also said that certain cannabis businesses are essential providers that can continue operations.

Colorado

Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order allowing marijuana businesses to provide curbside pickup services and letting doctors issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without in-person examinations. A subsequent order from the governor says that marijuana businesses are critical retail operations, but only for the sale of medical cannabis or curbside delivery. Regulators also issued emergency rules temporarily loosening requirements for fingerprinting of marijuana business owners, modification of premises and transfer of cannabis product samples for testing.

Connecticut

Regulators deemed medical cannabis businesses to be essential and thus exempt from a general mandate to suspend in-person operations.

Florida

The state surgeon general issued an order allowing physicians to issue medical cannabis recertifications to existing patients—but not new ones—via telemedicine.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) stay-at-home order declares marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities to be essential businesses that can stay open. Dispensaries are also being allowed to do curbside sales of medical cannabis—but not recreational marijuana—products.

Maryland

Medical cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries. are exempt from an order Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued to close non-essential businesses. Regulators are also allowing dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to patients in parking lots.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a stay-at-home order deeming medical cannabis businesses—but not recreational marijuana ones—to be essential and exempt from a general shutdown. Regulators also encouraged medical cannabis delivery services to promote and expand their offerings, and are allowing doctors to remotely recommend marijuana to patients through the use of telehealth waivers. 

Michigan

Marijuana businesses will be able to continue curbside sales and home deliveries but cannot perform in-person transactions in stores under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Regulators previously sent a bulletin allowing curbside pickup and encouraging delivery services, and another bulletin extending the period of prequalification status for marijuana business license applicants that may experience building delays.

New Hampshire

Regulators are allowing medical cannabis patients to do curbside pickup at dispensaries and are letting doctors issue recommendations via telemedicine.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) exempted medical cannabis dispensaries from a stay-at-home order. Regulators moved to allow patients pick up medical marijuana at dispensaries’ curbsides and to reduce caregiver registration fees.

New Mexico

Regulators ruled that medical cannabis businesses are essential and can stay open. They also allowed curbside pickup services, extended expiring patient and caregiver cards for 90 days and suspended background checks for new industry employees.

New York

The state Department of Health deemed that medical cannabis providers are essential businesses not subject to a general closure order. Those that are authorized to carry out home delivery are temporarily allowed to expand those services without written approval.

Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) stay-at-home order exempts medical cannabis businesses from a broader business shutdown. The State Medical Board also moved to allow doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations via telemedicine without meeting patients in person. Additionally, regulators are letting patients phone in orders ahead of their arrival at dispensaries to reduce time spent inside.

Oregon

Regulators approved rules to allow curbside delivery of marijuana at licensed retail locations and to increase medical cannabis sales limits. They also moved to make it easier to obtain cannabis worker permits.

Pennsylvania

Regulators deemed medical cannabis providers as “life-sustaining” operations that are exempt from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) order to close businesses in general. They also took other steps, including allowing patients to have marijuana brought to their cars outside of dispensaries and letting caregivers make deliveries to an unlimited number of patients.

Washington State

Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) stay-at-home order exempts marijuana businesses as essential, allowing them to stay open. And regulators are allowing marijuana dispensaries to carry out curbside service for medical cannabis patients.

Despite the significant number of states deeming cannabis businesses to be essential and issuing rulings temporarily expanding their services, that is not the case in every legal marijuana market.

In Nevada, for example, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and regulators are mandating that all sales be done via delivery, effectively shuttering businesses that only have storefront operations.

And despite the accommodations, many regulators are also directing businesses to implement social distancing measures such as limits on the number of customers who can enter a retail operation at a given time or guidance on physical space between those who are standing in line—changes that can slow down operations and reduce revenue.

Still, many industry leaders seems to understand the public health necessity of such moves, and cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, for example, issued a set of suggested voluntary guidelinesfor marijuana businesses to consider.

For now, industry trackers have indicated that sales are strong as consumers stock up in preparation to hunker down at home for several weeks.

Nonetheless, the industry has called on Congress to give it equal access to disaster relief funds—a request necessitated by the fact that ongoing federal prohibition means that their operations are still illegal and not generally eligible for such aid.

Legalization opponents, meanwhile, are not pleased with moves by a growing number of states to keep cannabis stores in business despite the steps intended to foster social distancing at such locations.

“We have seen numerous reports of marijuana stores with long lines of people stocking up on the drug and have additionally seen states move to keep these stores open,” Kevin Sabet, president of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said. “Quite frankly, this presents a unique harm to public health and safety. Across the country, states are doing everything in their power to limit the gathering of people in one location. Long lines outside of establishments engaged in the distribution of marijuana should be a tremendous cause for concern.”

When it comes to consumers, while advocates have cautioned them to consider refraining from smoking or vaping for the time being due to the risk of agitating lungs amid the respiratory effects of the novel coronavirus, they have also pointed out that there are other ways to use cannabis, such as edibles.

For now, the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the disconnect between federal and state policies: Under one set of laws cannabis is a banned drug, and under the other it’s a medicine deemed just as essential as any other.

This story originally appeared at Forbes.

States Split on Following USDA Hemp Rules in 2020

States Split on Following USDA Hemp Rules in 2020

More states have declared that they’re going to stick with their own rules for the 2020 hemp production season, rather than follow federal guidelines on the new crop.

To date, 20 states have said they will follow the 2014 pilot rules this growing season, outnumbering the 12 that have so far received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for their production plans under the interim final rule.

The result is that the nation will again see a patchwork of varying hemp production guidelines in 2020, despite federal efforts to streamline hemp regulations to mirror other commodity crops.

The USDA has also approved hemp production plans for 14 American Indian tribes and currently has 15 tribal plans and nine state plans under review. Five more states are working on a plan for USDA review, according to the agency.

States choosing pilot rules

Since early February, when Hemp Industry Daily reported that 14 states extended their current program rules into the 2020 production season, six more states have declared the same intent to the USDA, including Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia.

Sunny Summers, cannabis policy coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), said in late February that the state had received three times the number of hemp production applications as it had at the same time last year, according to the Capital Press of Salem Oregon.

Oregon, she said, asked the USDA for more flexibility in the federal hemp rules.

Late last month, a panel of Southern state hemp production program regulators explained during the Industrial Hemp Summit in Danville, Virginia, why they extended their respective 2014 pilot rules.

A Virginia official explained that the state would stick with its own rules and advised hemp farmers to go ahead and apply for licenses – with a warning that they would be notified if the rules change under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“We are right now in a period of reviewing the comments and feedback we received from USDA and considering what amendments are necessary for our plan to move forward,” said Erin Williams of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In neighboring North Carolina, regulators say their sizable hemp production program and current legislation underway within the state would make it hard to implement the USDA interim final rule in 2020.

“We believe that it’d be difficult at this stage in the game to try to implement the USDA rule,” said Paul Adams from the North Carolina Department of Consumer Services.

“There are some legislative holdups in our state right now. We we are working on drafting a program, but it remains to be seen whether or not we will be submitting that.”

States requesting more time for pilot

States have cited numerous reasons for extending their pilot programs for the 2020 season.

One of the top concerns is a set of THC sampling and testing protocols that states call laborious and expensive – even a risk to hemp farmers.

“There are 46 states where hemp is legal, and I’m going to say that every single state has raised concerns to us about something within the (USDA) rule,” said Aline DeLucia, director of public policy for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).

“They might be coming from different perspectives, but every state has raised concerns.”

Many states have requested that the USDA extend the pilot from its Oct. 31 expiration through Dec. 31. That would allow producers to start and end the year operating under the same rules.

NASDA members adopted a policy item calling for extending the mandatory date of Oct. 31 for states to change from 2014 pilot programs to approved USDA plans.

“With the vast majority of states needing to call on their state legislatures to be in compliance with the rule, we need more time to stand up regulations that support the growth of our hemp industry,” NASDA CEO Barb Glenn said in a statement released by the association.

“States are doing what they can with limited resources to ensure regulatory compliance,” Glenn said.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said during a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this month that he had hoped to have more states approved under the federal rules for the 2020 season but understood why they opted to continue their 2014 pilot programs.

During that hearing, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, asked Perdue to clarify whether the interim final rule was a draft plan or a final plan.

Merkley pointed out that the distinction matters because states can operate under the 2014 pilot rules for only one year after the federal hemp rules are final.

Perdue said he “would functionally say it’s a draft plan, as this is a very unique crop,” and that he’ll be “as flexible as the law allows” if his agency can’t resolve state concerns about the federal rule by the 2021 growing season.

Federally approved plans march forward

Despite the continued state-by-state patchwork of rules, the USDA continues to review state and tribal plans submitted for approval for the 2020 hemp production season under the interim final rules based on the 2018 Farm Bill.

In the past month, the agency has approved plans for:

One of those states, Montana, said that despite winning USDA hemp approval, it plans to operate under the 2014 pilot program for the 2020 season.

Changes from Pennsylvania’s 2020 plan include mandatory permits for processors, fee changes and new restrictions for hemp production and processing properties.

And another recent federal entrant, Georgia, said it will start taking applications later this month despite not yet settling how it plans to pay for its hemp program.

Iowa, the latest state to receive the green light for its program, needed federal approval to move forward with hemp production because it didn’t previously operate a state pilot.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at laurad@hempindustrydaily.com. This story originally appeared at Hemp Industry Daily.