Hemp PhoenixRead More
by DJ Reetz
Up a winding mountain road, hidden among the charred pines left behind by the High Park fire, an otherwise innocuous construction site surrounds a cabin being built. Here, in the foothills outside of Ft. Collins, this particular cabin carries a distinction from the others in the area that share its sweeping views over the small town of Laporte and out to the plains, this one is being made using hemp.
“It’s practically impervious to everything,” says Melissa Rabe, CEO of the Loveland Hemp Company that’s providing the materials and one of the small group of people on site, as she pounds on the rough, grey material that makes up the cabin walls.
The modest cabin is constructed from a wooden frame, using the fire-cured standing timber from the surrounding area that gives even the interior space an exterior feel, but the truly noteworthy aspect of the cabin is the otherwise unremarkable grey material that is packed into the frame forming the building’s walls. It’s hemp, mixed with lime to form a sturdy, insulative, stucco-like wall.
“This whole thing will become like one piece of stone,” says Rabe. As the hemp and lime cures, it will absorb the CO2 from the atmosphere, creating a strong, and fire-resistant insulating wall. All it will need is a coat of stucco.
The project began after the landowner made the hard decision to rebuild the cabin he had lost in 2012 during the High Park fire. At the time, the fire was the second largest the state had seen, and homes in this densely forested area stood little chance to withstand the quickly spreading fire driven by high winds. The cabin’s owner, a longtime friend of Rabe’s, had owned the land since 1975, and the loss of his mountain retreat was heart breaking.
“We were able to do stuff up here and enjoy the land before it burned,” says Rabe. “He was very disheartened when it burned.”
Fortunately, Rabe, a hemp advocate and entrepreneur, was in a position to help. While not a strictly charitable endeavor, building the house out of hemp would be an opportunity not just to help a friend, but also to demonstrate the power and applications of hemp.
“On the one hand we’re helping a buddy out,” says Rabe. “On the other hand, it’s to show people what hemp can do. This is really our proof of concept.”
In March of last year construction began and a foundation was set. After some of the nearby dried timbers were lugged over by hand and set in place creating the natural frame, the process of creating the walls began. For this, roughly 8,000 pounds of processed hemp hurd is needed. The hurd is made up of processed hemp stalk and fiber, and looks a bit like wood chips, though it is much softer to the touch and less likely to give you splinters when handled. The hurd is mixed with lime and water in a ratio that is dependant on environmental factors of the area, and up here in the Colorado foothills, extreme cold can give way to blaring sun in a matter of days or even hours. It makes the process tricky, but Rabe says experimentation is key.
The hurd lime mixture is then poured into molds secured between the supports of the house and packed down to ensure it is dense enough. This is also made more difficult by the natural shape of the adjacently sourced wood, which requires the molds to be carefully trimmed to ensure the finished walls will be a uniform nine inches thick. After it has been allowed to cure the hemp is coated in a plaster stucco mix that the team incorporates hemp hurd into as well.
The end result is a sturdy wall that naturally dampens sound, is easily repaired, provides exceptional climate control due to its breathability, and is even resistant to fire.
“It’s a lot like sculpting a house,” says Rabe. “It’s fun, it’s creative.”
“It’s one of those things that’s just really hard to screw up, like an oatmeal cookie,” says Josh Rabe, husband, business partner and construction assistant to Melissa. “It’s a natural building process, you really just have to try it.”
Because of the variable and climate dependent nature of the hemp walls, a lot of builders will be intimidated by the process as there really is no definitive formula to follow, says Josh. But with a bit of experimentation and a willingness to let the process play out organically it really isn’t too hard to figure out, though he says he does recommend retaining an engineer as they have.
For now, the hemp being used comes from foreign sources, which for the time being is about half the cost of the limited amounts of domestic hemp. But Rabe says she foresees a time when the hemp used in these projects is sourced from Kentucky or Colorado.
The process is also more costly than some traditional construction methods due to the increased labor necessary to prepare the hemp walls, and the cost of the lime needed also plays a factor.
But so far, the project is shaping up to be quite a success, and if all goes as planned the cabin should be ready for occupancy this summer.
If you’re interested in learning about hemp construction be sure to check out the upcoming workshop Loveland Hemp Company is putting on June 13. Check out their Facebook page for details.
July 2014 - Cannabis News Across the GlobeRead More
by John Schroyer
FRENCH WINERY USES HEMP AS BUILDING MATERIAL
The Chateau Maris in Languedoc, France, might be the first of its kind. It’s an otherwise traditional French winery, but its cellar is constructed completely from hemp.
The 9,000-square foot cellar’s building material is just one factor that went into making the entire chateau a net-zero energy operation, complete with a green roof and solar panels. Hemp’s breathability was a perfect match for the winery, since it keeps the inner temperature between 54 degrees and 63 degrees at almost all times, in spite of the weather.
TENNESSEE OPENS DOOR FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP
One of the most recent states to breach the topic of farming industrial hemp is Tennessee (along with its neighbor, Kentucky), but in The Volunteer State, hemp farmers may have to wade through a lot of red tape in order to sow a single seed.
Under rules proposed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, would-be farmers would have to pony up a $500 license fee. Their crops would be subject to random THC testing. Growers will also have to give the state GPS coordinates for their hemp fields.
Any farmer willing to deal with all the regulations will be able to apply for a license later this year, and begin cultivating hemp in 2015.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA TIGHTLY REGULATED
The Sunshine State Legislature has joined the growing number of states that permit a form of medical marijuana, but Florida’s restrictions are some of the tightest in the nation.
Under the "Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act," smoking marijuana is still illegal, whether it’s for medical reasons or otherwise. The only medical form that’s legal is a cannabidiol extract, an oil that can be used to treat a handful of ailments such as epilepsy, and was made famous by the Charlotte’s Web strain from Colorado. Other patients who will be able to obtain the oil legally include those with cancer and muscle spasm-inducing diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
FLORIDA MILLIONAIRE FUNDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PUSH
Though the Florida Legislature passed a narrow bill permitting medical marijuana for epileptics and cancer patients, cannabis proponents aren’t satisfied. They are pushing ahead with a ballot measure for November that would broaden the medical spectrum of medical conditions that qualify patients for legal marijuana.
But opponents of the measure, also known as Amendment 2, are always quick to note that a lone millionaire is behind most of the funding for the ballot measure campaign.
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a prominent Democrat, has given the Amendment 2 campaign more than $4 million to try and expand qualifying conditions to include any "conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." That means Florida’s cannabis community would start to look more like Colorado’s marijuana scene.
WASHINGTON STATE BOLSTERING CAMPAIGN AGAINST STONED DRIVING
In advance of adult-use marijuana sales beginning this month in Washington, state traffic officials ramped up an anti-DUI campaign targeted at those who smoke marijuana. They want to get the word out that stoned driving will still be punished severely.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission launched an ad campaign with the slogan "Drive high, get a DUI" with 30-second TV spots that feature people who are high and attempting normal tasks. The obvious implication is if you smoke a joint, you’re too stoned to get behind the wheel.
Extra state troopers are out on the highways looking to crack down on stoned drivers. In Washington, a DUI will cost an offender at least one day in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
MARIJUANA BREATHALYZER INVENTED
Cops may soon have a new tool with which to nail drivers who have been toking up. An ex-Canadian Mountie reportedly has helped invent the first-ever marijuana breathalyzer.
Kal Malhi, a former member of the Canadian Mounted Police, told a Vancouver TV station that he and radiologist Dr. Raj Attariwala came up with the "Cannabix Breathalyzer" because law enforcement officials don’t have any other reliable way to tell whether a driver may be stoned.
Though the patent on the device is still pending, according to some reports Malhi and Attariwala are planning on showing their new invention to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Authority.
SMARTPHONE APP ALLOWS MMJ HOME DELIVERY
If you’ve ever heard that saying, "There’s an app for that," this one takes it to a new level. If you live in Washington state, you have a medical marijuana card, and you want to get marijuana delivered to your home, there’s an app for that.
The new app, called "Canary," is the brainchild of University of Washington students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakhaira. It allows users to order any amount from a gram up to an ounce at a time. Users can even order snacks to go along with their cannabis.
"The uncertainties are not in the technology; the technology has already been done before. The uncertainties are in the legality on the business side," Tullis told Time Magazine.
The pair are already interviewing drivers from Uber and Lyft as potential hires.
FEDS SEIZE MORE HEMP SEEDS BOUND FOR LEGAL FARM
Federal agents made headlines in May when they seized a shipment of hemp seeds legally bound for cultivation in Kentucky. Though those seeds were ultimately released by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a similar occurrence has taken place at the Canadian border over a shipment headed for Colorado.
Colorado hemp activist Tom McClain purchased 350 pounds of hemp seeds in Canada after the Colorado Legislature passed rules for hemp cultivation. But when he tried to drive back through North Dakota, his seeds were confiscated by border agents.
"They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn’t bring them in," McClain told The Associated Press.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs Enforcement told The AP that the seeds were being evaluated because hemp and marijuana seeds can look very similar.
The Kentucky case ended when the state Department of Agriculture sued the DEA, and it gave up the seeds.
COLORADO CANNABIS FINANCIAL CO-OPS LIKELY A WORTHLESS TOKEN GESTURE
A first-of-its-kind law in Colorado to create credit co-ops for cannabis dispensaries is likely nothing more than a token gesture. It won’t do much to relieve dispensaries’ need to do most of their business with cash, according to several industry players.
The problem is the Federal Reserve System, which would have to give the thumbs up to Colorado House Bill 1398. The bill was aimed at giving dispensaries access to bank accounts and credit lines, since many banks refuse to do business with cannabis companies for fear of federal prosecution, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Dispensaries are at a greater risk of being targeted by criminals, since they’re forced to deal in cash, while traditional businesses can use electronic transfers, checking accounts, and so on to protect their finances.
But the Fed hasn’t given any indication that it will sign off on the electronic transfer services necessary for HB 1398 to work, according to the Craig Daily Press. In other words, nice try, Colorado lawmakers, but no deal.
FDA CONSIDERS LOOSENING FEDERAL MARIJUANA RESTRICTIONS
Marijuana could be moved from a federally classified Schedule 1 drug to a lower tier, a step toward possible decriminalization by federal regulators.
The Food and Drug Administration, at the behest of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is taking a look at whether or not to recommend the downgrade, according to an FDA spokesman at a recent congressional hearing.
But the spokesman wouldn’t give many details, saying he wasn’t sure when the analysis might be finished, or if the agency may recommend that the DEA change marijuana’s classification.
ADULT-USE MARIJUANA SALES BEGIN IN FORT COLLINS
Fort Collins became the latest Colorado town to start selling adult-use marijuana in mid-June, when the doors at Organic Alternatives swung open and let in dozens of waiting customers.
Though there are roughly a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins, Organic Alternatives was the first to begin retail selling under a state-obtained license. There are two other adult-use stores in the region.
Another Fort Collins-area recreational marijuana merchant, Flower Power Botanicals, will likely open a few months down the road.
KENTUCKY CANNABIS ACTIVISTS HOPE TO BUILD ON HEMP MOMENTUM
Republicans all over the state of Kentucky have been embracing industrial hemp as a potential cash crop for their state, and cannabis activists in the southern state are hoping to channel that enthusiasm into legalizing medical marijuana.
State legislators held their second hearing of the year in June on the topic, and will hold at least two more this summer. During the most recent hearing, Democrats spoke up in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, but old party divisions surfaced when the Republican chairwoman got upset over marijuana supporters demonizing former U.S. President Richard Nixon and his role in criminalizing marijuana.
"If Kentucky moves in that direction of medical marijuana, it would be extremely limited in who can prescribe it and who can dispense it," the chairwoman told The Associated Press.
Hemp Fiberboard Poised To Replace PlywoodRead More
by Skyler Cannabaceae
Want to support legal hemp production, but not sure how? It can be as simple as choosing hemp fiberboard over plywood for your next building project. Take a few tips from the experts into consideration.
Ryan Loflin, 41, is Colorado’s hemp farming pioneer. He saw the potential in hemp last year when he used his dad’s farm in southern Colorado to grow hemp after
Colorado legalized the practice. “Right now we are really focusing on seed production.” he said.
Other entrepreneurs have been researching the uses of processed hemp for everything from salad dressings to building materials for decades. They are looking forward to seeing more hemp farms in this country.
Loflin told THC in a phone interview that a great benefit to growing hemp instead of other crops is that no pesticides are needed. Pests are naturally averse to the cannabis plant, so the farmer saves money and time, and consumers can buy products that are good for the environment. In addition to saving the world from pesticides, you can save some trees while you are at it.
THC caught up with Greg Flavell last week in New Zealand where he is building houses. Flavell owns Hemp Technologies, a hemp building company based in Asheville, North Carolina. He points out that hemp not only saves trees, but it is more efficient.
“Trees take 10 years to grow. Hemp only takes four or five months.” Flavell said. So there it is, in a nutshell - the first advantage of hemp fiberboard over wood.
A Congressional Research Service (CSR) report titled “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity” published Feb 14, 2014 expands on this. According to the report, “Industrial hemp production statistics for Canada indicate that one acre of hemp yields ... an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into about 1,300 pounds of fiber. “
By comparison, a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that a single acre of trees produces less than one-fourth the amount of fiber from an acre of hemp.
“The longest bundle of fibers in an old-grown Douglas Fir is three-quarters of an inch.” Tim Pate explained. “If you take a hemp plant, that bast fiber on the outside is going to be as long as that plant is tall.”
Pate was a member of the company that teamed up with Washington State University to create “medium-density fiberboard” (MDF) from hemp, so he knows his stuff.
Not only is the fiber longer than wood, but it is higher quality. C & S Specialty Building Supply, a now-defunct Oregon-based business that included Pate, Bill Conde, Dave Seber and Barry Davis, brought the idea to a Washington State University researcher named Paul Maulberg. Together they created a hemp MDF prototype that met or exceeded all tests.
“If you can find a non-toxic way to create building materials, you could win a Nobel Peace Prize.” Pate said. The MDF project closed in on that goal, showing just how well non-toxic hemp was suited for building.
“That fiber doesn’t break down after just a few seconds,” he said, referring to hemp fiber in a steam exploder. This is important because the extraction process is used to bond the strong hemp fiber with other materials to create composite materials such as hemp MDF.
The hemp fiberboard created at WSU proved in tests to be stronger than steel and a report issued by the Boulder Hemp Initiative Project shows that not only does hemp stand up to force, but heat and water as well.
“Hemp hurds can be pressed and injected with phenolic resin to make a particle board that is resistant to fire and water,” Pate said. “The board also makes a good insulation and thermal barrier.”
With all of these benefits, why not build with hemp?