The Vital Role of Hemp in the Coming Age of Abundance
By Brandon Pitcher, Indiana
Hemp Circle Industries
Peter Diamandis has a radical idea. The coming age will be one of abundance—not for the few, but for the many, the bottom three billion people on earth. He focuses on the disruptive technologies rolling across our planet. The ancient practices of limitations and scarcity-thinking are giving way to a new paradigm that is transforming every segment of human civilization.
In this department, we will cover numerous areas of innovation within agriculture, industry, and the inputs for a bio-based economy, and how they are being transformed by a disruptive crop: Cannabis—specifically industrial hemp. This one crop has multiple uses: food, clothing, fuel, shelter, health—all from the same farmland. But to start the series, let’s dig a little deeper into the thinking behind our work before jumping into the opportunities within Cannabis.
Some people are quite concerned. What does it mean when wages, manufacturing, and jobs become “devalued?” How is anyone going to work for a living?
Actually, this is the wrong question. The real questions become: “What will our planet look like when robotics, driven by information systems, can produce everything we need? Will classical working jobs be necessary?”
Perhaps the role of humans will evolve into providing creativity in the form of music, writing, design, art, dance, poetry, singing, gardening, sculpture, crafts, and painting. Very much like what Gene Roddenberry envisioned in a “Star Trek” civilization. Michio Kaku postulates that we are on the verge of becoming a “Type One” civilization, one where all our energy needs come from harnessing the sun, wind, and tides. New techniques to use our “waste” can generate abundance, real wealth, in terms of designing a sustainable circular economy. Judging from the creative innovations being designed by young people, the rEvolution is just beginning.
The Blue Economy
Hemp Circle Industries Founder and the primary author of this column, Brandon Pitcher, recently introduced co-author, Bruce Ryan, to the work of Gunter Pauli of www.theblueeconomy.org . A real eye-opener for Bruce, this boots-on-the-ground approach to building sustainable solutions from the “bottom up” for humanity is absolutely brilliant thinking!
Instead of entering into high-competition mode with global commodity pricing, most of the innovative solutions involve transforming waste into revenue. One of the more startling projects was making paper out of stone—literally using mining-dust waste to create a product out of mine tailings that is 100% recyclable. This maintains woodland diversity and eliminates clear-cutting tactics for monoculture pulp and paper forests. Another project uses the waste from orange groves to produce household cleaners from the rinds and using seeds in high-protein bread. The oranges from the grove are turned into freshly squeezed juice for local hotels and resorts. Rather than driving the local economy into poverty with the lowest possible price, the circular economy creates jobs, value, and revenue in the local region. This works from rural farms to big cities.
Cannabis in the Circular Economy
Cannabis has great potential in the “blue” circular economy. This concept goes beyond “green” incentives that often contribute to higher costs for green solutions—compared to the hidden subsidies and environmental costs of petrochemical products. The growing of food, clothing, and shelter can help people create a sustainable, organic, net-zero carbon economy.
Hemp has many uses. Consider the following:
- The seed grain is a valuable source of food. All of the essential protein, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and EFAs, including GLA, are present in a perfect ratio.
- Oil pressed from the seed, in addition to being food, replaces diesel fuel as a net zero-carbon fuel source.
- Fiber taken from the stalk of the plant is strong, durable, waterproof, and antibacterial. Cotton, in comparison, requires four times as much water, pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides.
- The core (hurd) material is 70% cellulose. This is used to make “hempcrete” to replace concrete construction in many applications. Fireproof, strong, and ecological, hempcrete absorbs tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
- This core material is also used to make paper, household products, ethanol, and cellophane.
- The dust waste created during processing is used to make biogas, which can offset natural gas.
Considering that hemp as an agricultural crop can produce high-quality products from one circular-economy source means its legalization and use will be a small revolution. The leftover leaf material can also be used for medicine, animal fodder, or simply be returned to the soil as compost. Clearly, Cannabis—in this instance, industrial hemp—has myriad uses and potential as a source for products.
Furthermore, hemp has other beneficial uses, such as restoration of farmland. Cannabis captures carbon directly from the atmosphere. The extensive root system sequesters up to 35% of the entire biomass in the soil, keeping it for decades. As CO2 is pulled from the air, all of the products created keep the carbon for the life of the products. A house built of hempcrete is “carbon neutral/negative” and keeps the carbon for hundreds of years. This is a solution for long-term sustainability.
Any farmer worldwide can be part of this circular economy, growing wealth, literally, from the ground up…from the poorest nations to industrialized countries.
Many things are happening in the world of hemp today. In future installments of this column, members of our product-development team will discuss projects in which we have some involvement—including a hemp sports car body, an innovative building material, alternative uses of hemp biomass (think fungi!) and more!
As founder of Hemp Circle Industries (hempcircleindustries.com) in early 2015, Brandon Pitcher works to bring this re-emerging plant to the forefront of industry and value-added job creation. He considers hemp vital to sustainability and industrial productivity and the premier plant for a circular and bio-based economy. Brandon is an active board member of the Indiana Hemp Industries Alliance (INHIA), a not-for-profit group dedicated to raising awareness and education about industrial hemp. He is also vice president of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.
Bruce Ryan, founder of CannaSystems (CannaSystems.ca), is a relentless advocate of Cannabis since 1999 and the publisher of Never Plead Guilty. Among the founders of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance in 2003, his mission is to advance the Cannabis sector by working with innovators around the world.