Hemp is used to
“If we export a textile waste of hemp from Holland, we are entrepreneurs; if we dare to plant the plant, start the stalk and build a house, we are drug traffickers “, explains the entrepreneur Stephen Clarke the legal status of his company, Heaven Grown, dedicated to the construction of houses with hemp in Mexico.
Hemp ( cannabis sativa ) is a plant of the same genus as marijuana (cannabis indica ) but it is a species that contains much less THC -the psychoactive component of the plant-; However, its sowing, harvesting and handling is punishable in Mexico, except for medicinal use after the reform approved in 2017.
“Hemp is like wheat and they are regulating it like poppies, ” says Clarke.
To build the houses, Clarke uses waste of textile hemp. In an interview with mexico.com , he explains that the effects of the prohibition directly affect the price of houses.
Importing hemp waste is very expensive, he says, since each ton costs around 30 thousand pesos to bring it from the Netherlands to Mexico. To build a house of 100 square meters seven tons are required, which implies an import cost of 210 thousand pesos.
If the hemp was legal one hectare could be planted for “maximum 60 thousand pesos. The worst soil gives you six tons per hectare, the best 15 tons. ” That is to say, if hemp could be planted in Mexico, the material to build two houses would cost 60 thousand pesos against the 210 thousand that today it costs to make one.
The first house that Heaven Grown made is in Tulum, Quintana Roo. He also made a house in Marfan, Texas. In 2016, in Tepoztlán, Morelos, they built the eco village Oztopulco, which consists of 30 houses.
Sometimes, some media approaches them to see them as a curiosity of pachecos. Clarke gives a bit of a laugh: “Leave the part of the plant; in the economic part, here is a solution so that many people in a short time can have a house. Many victims could have the solution . “
Houses of hemp and other fibers for victims
And in fact, they had it. Heaven Grown built three houses for victims of the earthquake of September 7, 2017, which affected mainly the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Clarke had to work with communities in Oaxaca.
In conjunction with Huerto Roma Verde, Bioreconstruye Mexico, Bambuterra and Permacultura Mexico, green companies, went to the affected areas to see what they could help. “It was a very nice project, people from a good variety of disciplines came together,” says Clarke. The zones in which they built the three houses were Hueyapan, Morelos and Ixtaltepec, Oaxaca.
To build a house with hemp, the fibers of the plant are mixed with lime and water. The result, according to Clarke, is a mass that when dried is almost as strong as concrete and at the same time lighter,
It has the capacity to isolate air and water, but has the capacity for thermal self-regulation, says Stephen. Despite being of natural origin, no mold builds up on the walls and the material continues to harden over time and does not crack, according to Heaven Grown on its website.
You can get dressed in hemp, eat it, write in it and even drive a cannabis car
With the new boom of hemp as industrial material one could make a joke of “Millennials discover”, because the use of cannabis sativa has been present for thousands of years. Antonio Escohotado, in his famous General History of Drugs, points out that the oldest remains of hemp date from the fourth millennium BC and were found in China, where paper was invented using fibers from this plant.
It grows on all continents. Mexico arrived in the 18th century, introduced by the Spaniards for its high industrial value, as Ramón Serrera Conteras explains in the book Cultivation and manufacture of flax and hemp in New Spain .
Hemp is currently banned in most countries because it is from the same family as marijuana (the most consumed drug in the world, according to the WHO) , but that has not prevented its uses in the industry from being investigated.
Cannabis sativa, the plant of one thousand and one molecules is a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information – part of the National Library of Medicine of the United States – (NCBI) in which it is stated that it has the interest in hemp resurfaced due to its multiple applications.
The study indicates that cannabis sativa “is a hidden treasure of phytochemicals and a rich source of cellulosic and woody fibers”, which makes it a useful plant to make from beds for animals, to bioplastics, through paper, cloth, supplements food, oils and therapeutic uses , among others.
The stem of the plant is rich in phenols, a molecule that can be converted into bioplastics and is the cause of the plant does not require pesticides when planted, as phenol is fungicidal, bactericidal and antiseptic, characteristics that preserve the fabrics made with hemp, which makes them attractive for use in hospitals, says the study.
On boats, in your jeans
In fact, the sails of boats have been made for centuries with hemp, because they are resistant and do not rot. For the same reason, Levi’s pants were made of hemp, which ended when the plant was banned in the United States, and its cultivation is cheaper than cotton, according to the study published by the NCBI.
Hemp fibers can replace glass fibers and the resulting material “is more resistant than polypropylene plastic and lighter in weight,” the study reads.
This has made the auto industry interested in bioplastics made with hemp. Which is nothing new. Already in 1941 Henry Ford had created a car with bioplastics using soy and cannabis sativa, among other ingredients that are not known precisely “because there is no record of the formula at present,” says the site of the Henry Ford Museum.
Today, with the rise of electric cars, whose engines are less powerful, having a lightweight material can help cars maintain their speed, explained Clarke.
As a supplement and source of energy
The seed is also used as a food supplement (in fact, in Mexico you can buy this supplement in stores like Forbidden Fruits, without any recipe or restriction).
The best kept secret of hemp is that you can produce energy with it. Today, studies are being carried out to find out its potential to produce alcohol with its cellulose, or to use its biomass to generate ethanol, methanol and gasoline, that is, to light houses, light stoves and start cars, instead of using bone fuels.
Its cellulose is used to make paper, which could avoid the use of trees, which take longer to grow and require more arable land than hemp.
The plant has thousands of uses, says Clarke, reaches its maturity in 90 days and its cultivation to obtain pure fiber, without taking advantage of leaves or seeds, can occur without water or pesticides.
What is missing so that hemp can be industrially used in Mexico ? His advice is to investigate as much as possible of hemp: “Learn more. Read about the companies that already do it, investigate the uses that Henry Ford has given you, read Jack Herer so that hemp is for everyone. “
Current legislation in Mexico already allows research with cannabis species ; however, the regulation of these activities is still pending, which is responsible for the Cofepris and has exceeded the deadline for publication.
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