April 1st, 2015 – With the advent of the hemp airplane and hemp plastics, the amount of diverse applications for hemp whether industrial or medicinal, is constantly expanding. One of the next up-and-coming hemp revolutions has been spotted out of Florida.
Retired engineer, Bob Clayton has made the first house in Florida to be built out of hemp or rather a rock-like hemp composite made from the wooded core of hemp and when dried, hardens similarly to concrete, naturally coining the name “hempcrete”. Clayton was not your average hemp activist; he casually came across hemp products in a supermarket and began to contemplate its potential uses for construction. Clayton’s home is proof of the resilience of hempcrete as a building tool, as it can endure the unforgiving hot and damp climate in Florida. Yet many issues remain in implementing this eco-friendly alternative to traditional construction products used in the United States. Countries with more lenient industrial hemp laws, such as England, have already started using hempcrete for construction purposes. However the United States outlaws farmers to grow hemp, spending millions of dollars on importing hemp-based products each year. Importation of hemp results in higher costs than those countries that have invested in its domestic cultivation.
The United States’ long history with hemp dates back to the foundation of the country, being so integral to the early American economy that individuals could pay their taxes with hemp. Now the United States is missing out on the benefits from farming industrial hemp. Hemp activist and filmmaker Linda Booker, who went down to Florida to meet Clayton said,
“We now have some politicians that have seen we’re cutting American farmers out of an opportunity that 31 other industrialized nations are taking advantage of”
These restrictions on farmers prevent the plant composite from becoming a mainstream building product. Furthermore, other hindrances are the lack of infrastructure in place for processing the plant. Clayton explains,
“It’s not like oranges – you can box up oranges and sell them. Your fiber is meaningless if you can’t send it to a plant and process it. And processing is meaningless if people don’t buy your goods or clothing or whatever you’re going to make from it,”
The potential of industrial hemp is under constant suppression from strict laws that prohibit its growth and progress. The stigma attached to hemps relative marijuana has stunted the economic development of U.S. farmers and until the laws are repealed, the use of hempcrete and other hemp-based amalgamations will not be as accessible and affordable as it should be, resulting in missed opportunities for an array of American industries.