The Cover photo from Harmless Home of hempcrete blocks for a home project in British Columbia. The woody fibers of the cannabis plant — it grows from seed to harvest in about four months — when mixed with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating.
By Adam Popescu, New York Times News Service – Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The Romans have been using it since the days of Julius Caesar, but not to get high. Both Washington and Jefferson grew it.
Now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool.
The most sustainable building material is not concrete or steel — it is fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.
Now a wave of builders and botanists are working to renew this market. Mixing hemp’s woody fibers with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating. No pests, no mold, good acoustics, low humidity, no pesticide. It grows from seed to harvest in about four months.
A strain of the ubiquitous Cannabis sativa, the slender hemp plant is truly weedlike in its ability to flourish in a wide variety of climates, growing as high as 15 feet and nearly an inch in diameter. The plant’s inner layer, the pith, is surrounded by a woody core called the hurd. This is the source of the tough fiber, which can be used for rope, sails and paper.
Hemp is typically planted in March and May in northern climes, or between September and November below the equator. Once cut, usually by hand, plants are left to dry for a few days before they’re bundled and dumped into vats of water, which swells the stalks. Those dried fibers are then blended for a variety of uses, such as adding lime. This creates blocklike bricks known as hempcrete.
Industrial hemp contains a mere 0.3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the substance responsible for the buzz when smoking weed. The cannabis present at a reggae fest, for instance, contains as much as 20 percent.
The two strains look different, too. Hemp’s sativa is taller; the shorter indica has resiny trichomes accounting for its psychoactive power. The rule goes: the better the budding flower, the poorer the hemp.
Also unlike pot, you cannot grow hemp in an indoor hydroponics setup; the plant’s deep roots need to spread, so outdoor cultivation is required. The plant’s seeds and leaves can be eaten raw, dried into powder or pressed into oils.
Getting a mature plant in just a few months — with less fertilizer than needed for industrial crops like corn, and without chemical fertilizers or bug sprays — makes the potential for profit huge. As hemp taps water underground, its long roots circulate air, which improves soil quality — another boon for farmers looking to rotate crops.
Battling the plant’s powerful drug connotation might be the toughest hurdle for farmers and builders, and is possibly a more formidable obstacle during the Trump administration. The plant is still highly regulated.
This January, though, California legalized use of the plant in full. And the federal farm legislation of 2014 legalized hemp’s cultivation for research purposes in universities in states where it has been approved by law. New York now funds a research initiative for as much as $10 million in grants toward hemp businesses, with participation in the pilot program from institutions that include Cornell University.
Still, in the United States special permits are needed to build with hemp, and the requirements can vary by county and state. The first modern hemp house was constructed in 2010, in North Carolina. There are now about 50 such homes in the country.
But not much hemp is grown here; a little less than 10,000 acres so far, enough for about 5,000 single-family homes. Cultivated acreage in Canada is double that, and in China’s Yunnan province, 10,000 farmers grow it. Roughly 30 nations now produce hemp, including Spain, Austria, Russia and Australia.
Hemp was rediscovered in the 1980s across Europe, where cultivation is legal, and France has became the European Union’s largest hemp producer. Hundreds of buildings across the continent use the substance as insulation to fill walls and roofs, and under floors in wood-framed buildings.
Manufacturers say it is ideal for low-rise construction, a product that is stuccolike in appearance and toxin-free. Its promoters also boast that it has a lower carbon footprint, requiring three times less heat to create than standard limestone concrete.
More like drywall than concrete, hempcrete cannot be used for a foundation or structure; it is an insulation that needs to breathe, said Joy Beckerman, a hemp law specialist and vice president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group.
Hemp should not be used at ground level, or it loses its resistance to mold and rot. Lime plaster coatings or magnesium oxide boards have to be applied to anything touching hempcrete, or the lime will calcify it and lose its ability to absorb and release water.
While that sounds like a lot of work, Beckerman pointed to the long-term payoff.
“In many climates, a 12-foot hempcrete wall will facilitate approximately 60-degrees indoor temperatures year-around without heating or cooling systems,” she said. “The overall environmental footprint is dramatically lower than traditional construction.”
There still are not international standards for building with hemp, or codes regulating how it should be used structurally or safely. ASTM International, a technical standards organization, formed a committee to address this in 2017.
Nonetheless, the use of hempcrete is spreading. A Washington state company is retrofitting homes with it. Left Hand Hemp in Denver completed the first permitted structure in Colorado last year. There’s Hempire in Ukraine, Inno-Ventures in Nepal. Israel’s first hemp house was constructed in March on the slopes of Mount Carmel.
Down south, New Zealanders turned 500 bales of Dutch hemp into a property that fetched around $650,000. In Britain, HAB Housing built five homes with hempcrete last year. Canada’s JustBioFiber recently completed a house on Vancouver Island with an interlocking internal framed hemp-block inspired by Legos.
It is a niche but growing sector of the cannabis market. In 2015, the Hemp Industries Association estimated the retail market at $573 million in the United States.
“When I started Hempitecture in 2013 and presented the concept, venture capitalists laughed at the idea,” said Matthew Mead, the founder of Hempitecture, a construction firm in Washington. “Now there are over 25 states with pro-hemp amendments and legislation, and the federal farm bill has its own provision supporting the development of research toward industrial hemp.”
One major issue is cultivation. Although it has been legal to grow hemp in Canada since 1998, farmers need to apply for licenses. In Australia, industrial hemp agriculture has been legal for more than 20 years.
In the United States, a provision in the farm bill removed hemp grown for “research purposes” from the Controlled Substances Act. Farmers and researchers in more than a dozen states can now import hemp seeds. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, pending in the House for the seventh time, would exempt hemp plants in toto from the controlled substance designation, an Olympic leap toward a burgeoning agro-business.
Much like the “pot-repreneurs” who set up marijuana dispensaries a decade ago, before laws were definitive, a generation is pushing ahead despite uncertainties.
Sergiy Kovalenkov, 33, a Ukrainian civil engineer who spent the last three years building hemp structures and consulting on projects in Ukraine, France, Sweden and Jamaica, is beginning a project in California. The hardest steps, Kovalenkov said, are paperwork, permits and seeds.
“Building codes vary from state to state, with regulations in terms of fire and seismic activities,” he said. “If we’re talking sustainable product, seeds cannot come from Poland or France. It has to come from California.”
Only one facility in the United States processes hemp stocks, in North Carolina. Kovalenkov’s firm, Hempire USA, has also devised its own fiber separation system. “The demand is going to be quite big in the next three to five years,” Kovalenkov said.
But what does a hemp house smell like?
“It smells like comfort,” Kovalenkov said, laughing. “It smells a little like lime. We’re using the stock. You cannot smell cannabis — it has nothing to do with smoking weed or cannabis plants. It’s an industrial agriculture crop.”
In October, representatives from 14 countries attended the seventh annual Hemp Building Symposium at the International Hemp Building Association in Quebec. Terry Radford, the president of JustBioFiber Structural Solutions, an IT-pro-turned-tinkerer, unveiled a prefab hemp composite that could be more attractive to city planners and government building code officials.
“The problem with hempcrete right now,” he said, “is each one has to be inspected and have an exemption from the building code. It’s difficult for builders to get approved. If you’re trying to get a mortgage on your house, it’s pretty restrictive. That’s our biggest challenge.”
“Our idea is to get the material certified by building coders, rather than have each one approved,” he added. “The difference between hempcrete and my block product is that we’re a structural product. Hempcrete by itself is just an insulation.” The startup is preparing to produce a 112,000-square-foot facility in British Columbia.
Mead, the head of Hempitecture, echoes the concerns of others. For farmers to expand, he said, the infrastructure has to be there. Without a network to process materials, “it will be difficult for farmers to know if they can grow this crop and turn a profit.”
HempingtonPost.com is a media source presenting the most current & trusted Global HEMP/Cannabis Information
Reposted from the Las Vegas SUN – HarmlessHome & the New York TIMES
The articles range from poetry by Native American activist John Trudell to an interview with David Bronner and Will Allen as they reminisce over being arrested for protesting in front of the DEA offices against the fact that industrial hemp is still considered to be a Schedule I substance. Established contemporary artists Karen Gunderson and Glenn Goldberg create work from and about hemp while Mitch Epstein, one of the finest photographers of his generation, takes a stunning cover portrait of Alex White Plume wearing his grandfather’s feather bonnet.
Mia Feroleto, producer and creative director of HEMP NY CITY, edits this collection to share what is and the possibilities of what can be with industrial hemp.
1. Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of Vote Hemp on the history of industrial hemp and the industrial hemp movement
2. Joel Stanley, CW Botanicals
on the creation of Charlotte’s Web
3. Michael Carus, Nova
board member of the EU Industrial Hemp Association
on hemp in the EU
4. Jeffrey Silberman, Chairman of the Sustainable Textiles Department at FIT on hemp textiles
5. Will Allen, farmer and activist, named one of the 50 most influential people by Politico; and David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
on their experience in the hemp movement as activists
6. Glenn Goldberg, artist
on his experience at Dieu Donne making hand made hemp paper works
7. Mike Lewis, founder of Growing Warriors and hemp farmer in Kentucky
on farming hemp and the founding of Growing Warriors
8. Heather Jackson, Executive Director of The Realm of Caring Foundation,
on her personal experience
9. Steve Allin, builder, on building with hempcrete around the world
10. Michael Reif, attorney, and Marcus Grignon, farmer and activist, on Native American issues with farming hemp
We are thrilled to share this excellent interview with Tyler Strause, Founder & President of RandysClub.org.
Enlightening, This interview is informing, inspiring and engaging, you will definitely find your time well spent!
A scientist at heart as well as a dedicated activist for this legacy industry of Cannabis/Hemp/Medicinals Strause knows what he talking about, it’s his life’s passion. I need say no more, listen UP!
we’re making Cannabis History!
Tyler Strause interviewed on The Cannabis Entrepreneur Show
This interview with Tyler allows us to gain a greater understanding as we emerge into this mega transitional Cannabis industry paradigm! ‘We are moving from unregulated to regulated. It’s important to discover and understand the truth within the Cannabis Hemp world while being aware of the rules of this game-changing industry…there are many rules & regulations!
The Strause Family work as a symbiotic unit with RandysClub
It’s all about corporate greed and government-control of the population. Hemp – one of the world’s most useful plants – has been used to create fuel, paper, clothing, food and natural medicine. So why has the United States (plus other countries) criminalized the production of this valuable commodity? (“Dirty” details below)
this article is reposted from Jonathan Landsman, NaturalNews
The (ugly) reason why hemp is illegal
In 1901, Andrew Mellon (and his brother Richard) started an oil company in Texas called Gulf Oil. They wanted to drill in Kuwait but the British were in control – at that time. So, Gulf Oil appealed to the U.S. government and this is where it gets disturbing.
You see – Andrew Mellon gave up his position as Treasury Secretary of the U.S. (1921-1932) to become U.S. Ambassador to Britain (1932-1933). Naturally, as he traveled to Great Britain – he would bring up the subject of Gulf Oil’s interest in Kuwait. Just two years later, in 1934, British Petroleum and Gulf Oil struck a 50-50 deal and in 1938, struck oil!
The hidden agenda gets worse
In 1930, while Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department, Andrew Mellon appointed Harry Anslinger as the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Many political experts see Anslinger and his campaign against marijuana as a secret agenda to eliminate hemp as an industrial competitor. When you follow the money – everything gets a little clearer.
In the 1920’s and 30’s, the DuPont Petrochemical Company (heavily financed by Andrew Mellow) was making similar advances with oil – instead of hemp. DuPont went on to become a leader in the development of Rayon fiber (synthetic fabrics), paint, synthetic rubber, plastics and other (toxic) chemicals. Clearly, Andrew Mellon had a vested interest in destroying the hemp industry.
By the way, Andrew Mellon became one of the wealthiest people in the United States. In fact, while serving as Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, his wealth peaked at around $300 – $400 million by 1929 -30. Andrew Mellon, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and many other industrialists (of the early 1900’s) would stop at nothing to kill the hemp industry. It’s time to re-discover the power of hemp to heal the world.
The NaturalNews Talk Hour begins this Thursday evening at 6pm Pacific / 9pm Eastern,
John Roulac is the founder and CEO of Nutiva, the world’s leading brand of organic hemp foods and coconut oil. John is the author of four books on hemp and composting – with over 1 Million copies sold. He has successfully sued the United States DEA to keep hemp foods legal in 2001 – and has founded (3) nonprofit ecological groups.
Knowledge is power! Learn how to dramatically improve your health.
The more we learn about hemp the quicker we can get things to where they should have been all along.
Hemp is one of the most desirable, industrial plants on the planet. From its tensile strength, to its hardiness, the plant can grow almost anywhere and requires half the water that wheat would require. Its seeds are an incredibly healthy food and the herb, itself, is used as one of the greatest medicines on the planet.
Before the media-manipulated hemp prohibition of 1937, 30% of Americans were farming and US hemp was among the best in the world. It was a hugely popular export and the backbone of much of the agricultural economy of the time. 80 years of ignorance has left the plant on the Schedule 1 narcotic drug list, pretending as if it is more dangerous than crystal meth and cocaine (both schedule 2 drugs). Regardless, since entering the age of information, knowledge of the plant and the willingness of farmers to grow it has skyrocketed.
Canada, a front-runner in the legalization effort, is already raking in $1 billion a year on the production and sale of hemp. Many are seeing that it is the key to the revitalization of the agricultural economy and have followed suit. In 2014, Barack Obama signed the farm bill that legalized the use of industrial hemp for research purposes.
Rick Trojan, founder of Colorado-based Hemp Road Trip, has been hard at work petitioning the US government to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, which would make it legal to grow hemp for use in manufacturing a variety of products. “Hemp, as a rotational crop, leaves the ground better than it found it,” Trojan told KSNT.com in Kansas. “It is also a great alternative for farmers.”
Recent moves to reinvigorate the hemp industry has given farmers hope for a new cash crop and inspired others to begin farming. It’s an easy plant to handle and the demand is soaring.
For now, the importation of seeds must take precedence, as the supply was depleted over the 8 decades of prohibition.
For those of us already in this industry we could not be more delighted to see these kinds of headlines – Hemp is emerging and it’s not going away!!!
If domestic hemp use and cultivation were practiced and encouraged, we might just be able to change the world…
The cultivation of the plant would be a boon for small farmers, especially organic farmers. We’re talking about industrial hemp this time, not medical cannabis/marijuana, which continues to prove its merits and gain acceptance.
The worldly benefits of using hemp are in plain view and clear to see. But it’s a complex concoction of legal and bureaucratic nonsense even without THC – the psychoactive element found in cannabis – that holds the industrial revolution of hemp back.
Commercial hemp cultivation is legal in Canada but the US government pushed the industry to the side when industry monopolies were threatened when it appeared that a hemp boom may compete for the very products of their monopolist concerns.
Around 1937 the hemp industry was boosted by the introduction of the decoricator machine. It replaced hand shredding of hemp to glean its fibers, fibers that could be used for textiles, clothing, paper, and plastic.
With this new invention, hemp would have been able to take over most competing industries in areas such as paper, textiles, fuel, and plastics. Growing hemp in abundance was easy, and it’s plant to harvest time was no more than six months.
According to Popular Mechanics during that time:
“10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.”
This was followed by a small number of large businesses with competition concerns used high level government connections to push through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
The inevitable marijuana scare mongering ensued and was hyped by movies such as “Reefer Madness” brought about more legislation that would prohibit all hemp cultivation, even hemp without THC.
George Washington –“Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
Thomas Jefferson –“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”