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  • Hemp Is Ready to Shine, Thanks to Plastic Bans and Carbon Caps

    Pot Porsches and Hempcrete are here

    From stalled legislation to falling stock prices, cannabis didn’t have the greatest year. But investors are finding something to be optimistic about heading into 2022: industrial hemp.

    Demand is poised to rise for hemp — the staid sister to the mood-altering forms of cannabis — as it’s increasingly adopted for a wide range of uses, including concrete blocks, clothing and even car parts. The shift is driven by environmental incentives such as carbon caps and single-use plastic bans, which are making some natural materials preferable to those made from petrochemicals.

    “Industrial hemp is the biggest opportunity in the cannabis sector as a whole,” said Mina Mishrikey, a partner at Merida Capital Partners. His firm has invested around 90% to 95% of its $500 million in assets under management in cannabis businesses centered around THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but aims to make more investments in industrial hemp, Mishrikey told me.

    Hemp could use the boost after the market struggled to capitalize on the hype following the 2018 farm bill, which legalized hemp and led to over-planting when not enough companies were ready to create end products. In 2021, the number of acres of hemp planted fell to 33,844 from 70,530 a year earlier and 465,787 in 2019 according to New Frontier Data.

    Adding to the challenges, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently refused to regulate one of hemp’s best-known products — CBD, or cannabidiol — as a dietary ingredient, casting a specter of uncertainty over the otherwise booming market for creams, tinctures and gummies.

    As a material, hemp remains more expensive than alternatives that come from petrochemicals. But India, Canada, Germany and South Africa are among the countries cracking down on plastics in 2022, making alternatives more economical. Meanwhile, pressure to shift from oil and gas to renewable industries is increasing and carbon credits are becoming more valuable — and that’s an area where hemp has an advantage.

    Mishrikey sees the plant’s ability to capture carbon while it’s growing, and its ability to use less water than cotton, as key factors that help it disrupt a range of products. Just one category of industrial hemp alone — precast concrete — is worth around $20 billion, roughly the same size as the current U.S. legal marijuana market, he pointed out.

    His fund’s investments include Canadian Rockies Hemp Corp., based in Bruderheim, Alberta, which processes hemp for use in textiles, pulp and paper, animal bedding, rope, composites and automobile components, according to its website. Another is Bast Fibre Technologies Inc., based in Victoria, British Columbia, which has a processing technology to make nonwoven fabrics with natural fibers including hemp. That could be helpful for the booming market in wipes, which are ripe for disruption due to the sewer-clogging gobs known as fatbergs.

    Hemp could play a role in many categories: plastics, textiles, papers, building materials, protein for humans and animals, and concrete of all forms. Some of the more innovative applications include hempcrete, where hemp fibers are infused in the mortar, and a Porsche car with some components made of hemp. Some see hemp as a viable alternative to almost anything made from petrochemicals, due to the properties of its cellulose fibers.

    The U.S. will have some catching up to do: China is the leading grower of hemp and is  tiptoeing into the CBD market, starting with Hong Kong. The plants also require different agricultural and processing techniques compared to other forms of cannabis, meaning the supply chain will have to be built out from scratch. Processing the plant’s tough fibers, called decortication, is an arduous practice that takes heavy machinery and has created something of a bottleneck.

    That bottleneck is about to get some help from a $500 million impact fund by rePlant Hemp Advisors, launched in early November by Geoff Whaling, co-founder of Collective Growth Corp., and others including Michael Woods, former chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Rothschild & Co. Asset Management U.S. The fund plans to help develop U.S. infrastructure to process hemp and improve the supply chain, focusing on hemp for food and fiber.

    “I probably have a dozen companies call me a week” about using hemp in their products, Whaling said, citing brands like Chobani, Wrangler jeans and Tesla.

    “They all want to know where they can get 100 tons of fiber a year, and the answer, at this point, is nowhere,” he said. “No major manufacturer will sign unless there’s a two-year supply in a warehouse.”

    But slowly, that’s changing.

    “We’re seeing more countries advancing and mandating use of sustainable fibers, more auto companies adopting natural fiber solutions,” Whaling said. “It really is an industrial hemp revolution.”

    Number of the week

    16.6% The compound annual growth rate of the legal U.S. cannabis market from 2020 to 2025, as estimated by New Frontier Data in their 2021 Year in Review report.

  • Of Hemp’s Many Uses, One of the Most Promising Could Be In Construction

    Intro image

    It has become almost a cliché to discuss the benefits of hemp, the supposed wonder plant with almost endless uses — from woven fibers to edible seeds to bioplastics. “Of course, hemp is that magic crop that does everything,” says Nicholas Carter, an environmental researcher who, along with Tushar Mehta, a Toronto-based doctor, runs the website Plant Based Data. His work involves reading through scientific papers and studies and summarizing the most important work supporting plants as a source of food and other important uses. Given the hype, Carter wondered just how much power hemp really had. “I wanted to see the research out there on it, to see what’s actually real, what’s actually backed by evidence,” he says.

     

    Magic? Not exactly. But Carter came away from his attempted debunking a hemp believer. And one of the most promising of its many uses, he found, is its application as a building material known as hempcrete.

    hemp blocks from isohemp

    Although not a direct replacement for concrete, hempcrete has many benefits as a building material. Photo courtesy of IsoHemp

     

    Like its namesake concrete, hempcrete is a material mixed with a binder that hardens it into a solid in the form of blocks and panels. Made from the dried woody core of hemp stalks and a lime-based binder, hempcrete can be cast just like concrete. But unlike concrete and its binding cement, which accounts for about 8% of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions annually, hempcrete actually sequesters CO2. According to a recent study, hempcrete can sequester 307 kilograms of CO2 per cubic meter (19 pounds per cubic foot), roughly the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of three refrigerators.

     

    “While we’re growing it and building hempcrete, it’s sucking CO2 the whole time and encapsulating the CO2 in the structure,” says Eric McKee, founder of the U.S. Hemp Building Association.

     

    S.R. Karade, senior principal scientist of the Central Building Research Institute in Roorkee, India, outside New Delhi, has been studying hempcrete and wrote in a recent paper for the Journal of Cleaner Production about how hempcrete performs as a building material in terms of insulation, durability, structural strength and acoustic control, among other criteria. Overall, Karade found, hempcrete meets the current standards of most building applications and in many cases outperforms materials currently used, particularly for insulation.

     

    Hempcrete is not a direct replacement of concrete, Karade cautions. In the lab he’s been able to make hempcrete with a compressive strength of 3 megapascals (MPa). “Typical concrete blocks, used for making walls, have compressive strength values varying between 5 MPa and 20 MPa,” he wrote in an email. “Due to its poor mechanical strength, it cannot be sufficiently relied upon to undertake any structural loads. However, considering its impressive functional properties, in terms of thermal resistance and [moisture-absorbing] behavior, hemp concrete may be at the top spot in the list of walling materials in the future.”

    hemp stem

    Made from the dried woody core of hemp stalks and a lime-based binder, hempcrete has many benefits in building applications, including carbon sequestration. Public domain via Wikimedia

     

    In other words, it can’t supply the load-bearing structure of a building, but it can insulate and cover its walls.

     

    That’s part of what makes hempcrete such a potentially transformative building material, says Steve Allin, director of the International Hemp Building Association. Not only can hempcrete itself sequester carbon, but its use can help reduce the production of more CO2. “What’s really important about this material is we can create new structures or we can update or retrofit existing structures so that they don’t need air conditioning,” Allin says.

     

    As Karade notes, hempcrete has a high thermal capacity compared with concrete, making it good for both the structure of a wall and its insulation.

     

    construction worker putting construction debris in trash

    Hempcrete can be used in place of common construction materials like drywall and plaster, which account for about 10% of building construction debris. Photo © iStockphoto.com | Daisy-Daisy

     

    Hempcrete can also cut down on another big problem: construction waste. Concrete represents more than half of the debris generated by building construction and demolition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 23 million tons (more than 20 million metric tons) of concrete debris was created during construction in 2015. And while hempcrete can’t be used for structural sections of a building, it can be used to replace non-structural elements of walls that traditionally could use concrete. Hempcrete can also be used in place of common construction materials like drywall and plaster, which account for about 8% of building construction debris.

     

    Allin says builders are beginning to see value in hempcrete. Buildings have been built or renovated with hempcrete in France, the U.K., Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia. He says the British Science Museum Group’s artifacts storage facility used hempcrete, as have public housing towers and even renovations on stone buildings hundreds of years old.

     

    The challenge, he says, is availability. There are only about a dozen hemp processing plants that are able to process hemp into a form usable in the creation of hempcrete, and most are in Europe, according to Allin. “That’s really the logjam,” he says. “What we really need is investment in primary processing. And that investment needs to be on the longer term, rather than people expecting quick returns and thinking of it as some other standard quick buck.”

     

    Karade notes that the other major challenge is the legality of growing hemp, which can be hard to distinguish from marijuana plants. “The commercial off-take of hemp concrete is still limited by the regulatory constraints of hemp cultivation,” Karade says.

     

    But laws are beginning to change. In the U.S., the 2018 Farm Bill allows for the broad cultivation of “industrial hemp,” but with tight restrictions on grower licenses and the crop’s psychoactive content, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

     

    Allin hopes this will lead to more farmers producing hemp crops and entrepreneurs seeing the opportunity to build the processing plants necessary to turn that hemp into building products. He says builders are willing to use hemp in their projects, but the products have to be available, which relies on the processing, which relies on the farmers. “Once those things are in place, it will all become profitable,” Allin says. “In a way we’re talking about starting an industry from the ground up.”
  • Whole Foods CEO: CBD product dosing needs improvement or consumers will walk

    John Mackey’s keynote address and his fireside chat with Marijuana Business Daily CEO Chris Walsh as well as other MJBizCon 2020 content is available on demand.

    For the CBD industry to have staying power, products need to be dosed effectively or consumers will become cynical about the much-hyped commodity, said John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. (more…)

  • Mitch McConnell Wants Americans To Wear Hemp Face Masks To Prevent Coronavirus Spread

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is urging Americans to wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus—and he wants those coverings to be made of hemp.

    During an event at the Kentucky-based hemp company Ecofibre on Monday, McConnell talked about the challenges the burgeoning market for the newly legal crop has faced, especially amid the pandemic, but he said it represents a viable commodity that is bolstering the economy. (more…)

  • FDA Notifies Public About Recall Of CBD Product That Tested High For Lead

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is publicizing a voluntary recall of a CBD product, notifying consumers about potentially high levels of lead in a batch of tinctures that were tested by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

    The federal agency reported on Friday that Summitt Labs, which produces a wide range of hemp-derived cannabidiol products, voluntarily pulled a batch of its Kore Organic watermelon tincture after the state agriculture department conducted a test on a random sample and found high levels of lead, which when ingested can cause various symptoms such as pain, nausea and kidney damage. (more…)

  • Dog CBD Treatment

    Study Finds Arthritic Dogs Benefit from CBD Treatment

    A recent study published in the journal Pain found that CBD treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis was beneficial in 9 out of 10 cases.

    A recent study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with Medterra CBD found nine out of 10 dogs with osteoarthritis benefitted from CBD treatment. The study, published in the journal Pain, found the cannabinoid treatment reduced production in both inflammatory molecules and immune cells linked to arthritis, suggesting the study could support future scientific evaluation of CBD for human arthritis. (more…)

  • CBD, Hemp, legal

    The CBD Industry Is Here To Stay

    The CBD Industry Is Here To Stay

    Hemp legalization has solidified that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) aren’t going away. Last February, Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), acknowledged that it was “a fool’s game” to attempt to pull hemp-derived CBD products off the market.

    (more…)

  • CBD Nation

    ‘Facts Can Save Lives:’ 10 Powerful Takeaways From New Documentary ‘CBD Nation’

    Have you watched the new documentary CBD Nation?

    Only in recent years has CBD made its way into mainstream vernacular and consequently, cannabidiol has never fully been told on-screen. Buzzword status was reached roughly in 2018—the same the year National CBD Day (August 8) was recognized by the registrar at National Day Calendar. The soon-to-be-released documentary, CBD Nation, is the first wide-release film dedicated to the cannabis plant compound’s deep roots.

    (more…)

  • Hemp acreage 2020 US

    2020 Outlook: Licensed US hemp acreage falls 9% from 2019, but grower numbers increase 27%

    U.S. farmers are planting less hemp than they did last year due to regulatory uncertainty, a surplus of hemp flower and biomass held over from 2019 and continuously falling wholesale prices.

    As of Thursday, licensed total hemp acreage to date has reached 465,787 acres for the 2020 production season, with 47 state departments of agriculture reporting numbers to Hemp Industry Daily.

    (more…)

  • CBD oil, lab testing, quality

    CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?

    CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?

    For many consumers, cannabis plays a significant role in the treatment of medical conditions and managing general well-being. As a result, certain products have seen a rapid increase in popularity in recent years.

    But while awareness of these products is at an all-time high, false or misleading information continues to cause confusion, and creates an unnecessary barrier for consumers who want to experiment with, or try different products. (more…)

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